Asian American Identity Group: Using Art Therapy to Support Ethnic Identity Awareness for Second-Generation Asian American Adolescents

Graduation Date

Summer 2004

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Carolee Stabno, PsyD, MFT


In a race conscious society, second-generation Asian American adolescents confront typical adolescent challenges with the added complexities of the sometimes conflicting values between their American culture and their Asian ethnic culture of origin. Many Asian American adolescents suffer from psychological distress such as stress, anxiety, and depression as a result of overwhelming emotions related to biculturalism, the model minority stereotype, and racism. During adolescence, these unique stressors may confuse the process of identity formation. An art therapy group, Asian American Identity Group, is proposed by Pacifica Youth Services Bureau to address the stressors Asian American adolescents face which are often overlooked or even unknown. The group aims to provide a sense of achieved ethnic identity for each adolescent, which will lead to better psychological adjustment, development of healthy coping mechanisms, and increased self-esteem through the unique and effective modality of art therapy.

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