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Fam Process. 2011 Mar;50(1):12-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2010.01343.x.

Virtualizing intimacy: information communication technologies and transnational families in therapy.

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IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science and Department of Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.


Information communication technologies (ICTs) are a ubiquitous feature of immigrant family life. Affordable, widely accessible, and highly adaptable ICTs have transformed the immigrant experience into a transnational process with family networks redesigned but not lost. Being a transnational family is not a new phenomenon. Transnationalism, however, has historically been reserved for the wealthier professional and political immigrant class who were able to freely travel and use expensive forms of communication before the emergence of accessible technologies. This paper systematically reviews the research literature to investigate the potential impact of ICTs on the lives of transnational families and how these families utilize them. The wide penetration of ICTs also puts into question some of the ways in which scholars have conceptualized the immigrant experience. The appropriate use of technology in family therapy should strengthen culturally competent and equity-based approaches to address the needs of these families. A family therapy with a transnational family illuminates some of the potential that these technologies introduce in the practice of relational clinicians.

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