Transition Processes and Outcomes for Immigrant and Refugee Youth: a Narrative Review from a Goal-Directed Perspective

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Immigrant and refugee youth are faced with many transitional processes pertaining to adapting to a new country and culture, along with navigating the changing decisions and roadblocks that accompany the adolescent and young adult phases of life. Identifying these transitional processes and factors is important to understanding and supporting the transition to adulthood for immigrant and refugee youth. Furthermore, while many transitional processes can be understood as inherently involving the goal-directed action of the youth themselves, no current reviews have examined the transition to adulthood from this perspective. The present narrative review examines the research literature published from the year 2000 onward concerning transition to adulthood processes for immigrant and refugee youth. Forty-three studies met the inclusion criteria. Key themes identified in the findings related to both processes and outcomes of immigrant and refugee youth transitions include: (a) relationships, (b) integration, (c) self and identity, (d) academics, (e) mental health, and (f) skills. These findings are discussed using the perspective of goal-directed action offered by contextual action theory. This perspective discusses the goals, functional steps, and manifest behavior and resources of young adult immigrants and refugees. These actions reflect the transitional processes in which immigrant and refugee youth engage. This review resulted in the assertion that the transition processes of immigrant and refugee youth can be profitably understood from the perspective of goal-directed action and projects. Moreover, the perspective provides a favorable conceptual framework to incorporate the agency and intentionality of the youth in research and interventions on these processes.

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Appendix 1

Table 1 Summary table of reviewed studies

Funding Information

This research was supported by the Myrne B. Nevison Professorship in Counseling Psychology in the Faculty of Education, the University of British Columbia.

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Correspondence to Richard A. Young.

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Record-Lemon, R.M., Chevalier, M., Mackenzie, M. et al. Transition Processes and Outcomes for Immigrant and Refugee Youth: a Narrative Review from a Goal-Directed Perspective. Int. Migration & Integration (2020) doi:10.1007/s12134-019-00743-3

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  • Migration
  • Immigrants
  • Refugees
  • Youth
  • Young adults
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Goal-directed action
  • Contextual action theory