Special People? An exploratory study into re-entering missionaries' identity and resilience.

Susan Selby, Annette Braunack-Mayer, Alison Jones, Sheila Clark, Nicole Moulding, Justin Beilby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Home country re-entry from cross-cultural missionary work abroad may be associated with psychological distress. Re-entrants experience multiple losses including loss of identity which may be associated with personal/relational identity gaps and depersonalization/dehumanization. However, research suggests that some re-entrants are resilient with good mental health, while others are fragile with poor mental health. The aims of this paper are to explore the nature and frequency of re-entering missionaries' identity gaps and their depersonalization/dehumanization in resilient and fragile re-entrants. Fifteen re-entering adult Australian cross-cultural missionary workers from four interdenominational Australian mission organizations completed semi-structured interviews. Results were analysed using modified Consensual Qualitative Research methods. Links were established between personal/relational identity gaps, depersonalization/dehumanization and resilience on re-entry. Implications for re-entrants' care are discussed with suggestions for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1023
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Acculturation
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Missionaries
  • Resilience
  • Reverse culture shock
  • Social identity


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