Date of Award

Spring 5-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

Abstract

This research examines identity formation and the various issues of acculturation of Latino adolescents. The first part of the research includes a review of the literature on various aspects of identity formation such as developing a cultural/ethnic identity and issues of acculturation such as contextual stressors and maladaptive coping. The literature review also looks at the relationship between acculturation and its effects of Latino adolescent identity formation; specifically noting the positive role biculturalism serves within that relationship. The second part of the research includes the application of a research modality, using questions derived from the literature review to examine the above mentioned issues within a focus group of Latino adolescents ages 12-17. Data, which included discussions, comments, and art work, was collected over the course of three sessions. In each session art was the primary means utilized by the adolescents to explore issues of their identity. The data was analyzed and the findings reflected the process of the adolescents’ bicultural identity formation. One significant finding was the individuality and variety, as seen in the art works, of these adolescents definition of their bicultural identity. Also, another significant finding was how these adolescents’ strong positive ties to their parents’ culture, country of origin, and immigration story seemed to provide them with a strong sense of ethnic identity. This in turn seemed to serve as buffer against the stressors of acculturation, as evidenced by these adolescents’ reports through group discussions and as evidenced in the art work.

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