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Supporting Migrants through Joint, Goal-directed Projects: A Contextual Action Theory Intervention

Soutenir les migrants par le biais de projets communs orientés vers des objectifs : Une intervention de la théorie de l'action contextuelle
Richard A. Young, José F. Domene, Mindy Ming-Jung Chiang, Kesha Pradhan and Rosalynn Record-Lemon
p. 505 – 523


This article provides a description of a supportive counselling intervention that can be helpful to migrant clients. The intervention is grounded in contextual action theory and based on identifying and supporting the joint, goal­directed projects that migrants engage in with others. The social, occupational, and educational challenges faced by migrants can be subsumed under the broader task of social integration or social inclusion. These concepts refer to the process of how and the extent to which people participate in society. The goal of social inclusion is having access to and involvement in opportunities and resources in society. Specifically, the approach presented in this article is based on an understanding of social inclusion as goal-directed action. Social inclusion is presented as goal­directed behavior that occurs between the migrant and other relevant persons, for example, partners, friends, or counsellors. We use goal­directed action to understand the processes of social inclusion in which migrants engage in their various contexts and social groups. The proposed intervention is intended to assist migrants to identify and engage in their goal-directed projects pertinent to educational, occupational, and other life tasks. We assume that most human behaviour is goal­directed and can be supported and enhanced from this perspective. Furthermore, many important actions occur between people in contiguous time, and thus can be identified as “joint actions”, for example, a couple deciding what film to see together. When a series of actions share common goals, and are linked across a time period, they can be considered a “project”, for example, planning to relocate to a new country may be a project that involves numerous related actions with others. The proposed supportive intervention focuses on, but is not limited to, the joint goal­directed actions and projects that migrants undertake with significant others, such as family members, teachers, friends, or immigrant support workers, about their education, occupation, or other relevant social integration goals. The five steps of the intervention involve (1) a joint conversation, (2) the identification of the joint project through narrative feedback, (3) suggestions of ways to facilitate the project (4) telephone monitoring of the project by the counsellor over an agreed upon time period, and (5) final integrative joint conversation between participants. The process is illustrated by examples from research on the use of the intervention with young adult immigrants to Canada.

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Full text document will be published online on September 2022.


Immigration and Contextual Action Theory
Action systems
Action perspectives
A Supportive Counselling Intervention to Assist Migrants
Illustrative Case
First session
Second session
Telephone monitoring
Third session

First lines


Migration is a major phenomenon in our present society given factors such as globalization, economic and social inequities, and the prevalence of individuals fleeing war and conflict-ridden countries. For example, Canada welcomed over 286,000 permanent residents in 2017, including 44,000 resettled refugees (Government of Canada, 2018). The European Union estimated that 370,000 immigrants entered France in 2017 (European Union, 2019). Migration and resettlement processes involve numerous adjustments and challenges such as learning a new language, establishing resources and a sense of community, and navigating a new educational and/or work environment (Arthur & Domene, 2017; Lamba & Krahn, 2003). At the same time, many migrants experience a decrease in psychological and physiological well-being because of migration, resettlement and acculturation stressors (Lazarevic et al., 2012; Sirin et al, 2013), as well as potential negative consequences for their career development (...

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Bibliographical reference

Richard A. Young, José F. Domene, Mindy Ming-Jung Chiang, Kesha Pradhan and Rosalynn Record-Lemon, « Supporting Migrants through Joint, Goal-directed Projects: A Contextual Action Theory Intervention », L'orientation scolaire et professionnelle, 49/3 | 2020, 505 – 523.

Electronic reference

Richard A. Young, José F. Domene, Mindy Ming-Jung Chiang, Kesha Pradhan and Rosalynn Record-Lemon, « Supporting Migrants through Joint, Goal-directed Projects: A Contextual Action Theory Intervention », L'orientation scolaire et professionnelle [Online], 49/3 | 2020, Online since 15 September 2022, connection on 16 September 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the authors

Richard A. Young

Professor, University of British Columbia
Vocational psychology, counselling, human action, transitions.

By this author

José F. Domene

Professor, University of Calgary
Relational contexts of career development.

Mindy Ming-Jung Chiang

Graduate Student, University of British Columbia
Meaning and purpose and wellbeing, older adult wellbeing, cross-cultural mental health.

Kesha Pradhan

PhD Student, University of British Columbia
Developmental transitions, interpersonal relationships, cross-cultural counselling.

Rosalynn Record-Lemon

PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia
Trauma-informed practice, narrative.

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