Handbook of Intercultural Training. Issues in Training by Dan Landis

By Dan Landis

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Since it is impossible to respond to any situation with an emotion of anxiety or apprehension if one's musculature is relaxed, the art of conscious muscle relaxation is to be cultivated. Jacobson (1938, 1957) was among the first to show the relationship between the physical aspect of muscle tension and the emotion of anxiety. H e was also the first to document carefully the results obtained by conscious progressive relaxation techniques (Fishbein, 1958, p. 673). While such training may, indeed, reduce anxiety, its usefullness in alleviating culture shock needs to be demonstrated.

What most intercultural training programs do not do is help the prospective traveler deal with this decreased level of confidence and the attendant higher feeling of anxiety. T o counteract the anxiety, clients demand the only thing they know to dispel the feeling: culture-specific information. Trainers comply by offering a smattering of the language, "getting-around" information, and whatever "dos and don'ts" they believe are appropriate. The usefulness of this will be questioned later. Psychological Defense Stress researchers are aware that psychological defense must be part of a coping model.

What these methods will do is accelerate adaptation and eventually cause the surroundings and the behaviors of the people to be more understandable and predictable. It is then that the stress potential will diminish, but in the meantime it would only be heightened. 40 Handbook of Intercultural Training The advice given by Harris and Moran (1979) on how to manage cultural shock may be a prime example of this confusion. They carefully describe cultural shock, identify it as a form of stress, and give a quick mention of meditation, biofeedback, exercise, a family community, and tranquilizers (which they do not recommend) as ways to handle stress.

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