Department

Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Advisors

Len Jennings, PhD, LP and Tatyana Avdeyeva, PhD, LP

Abstract

As of 2000, one in forty Americans identified themselves as multiracial/multiethnic (Lee & Bean, 2004), with 70% of the multiracial/multiethnic population younger than thirty-five years of age (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). Population trends predict that the multiracial population will continue to increase, possibly reaching 21% of the population by the year 2050 (Smith & Edmonston, 1997). With the burgeoning number of multiracial/multiethnic individuals in our society, it is important for counseling psychologists to understand the ways in which they identify with race/ethnicity, and how that identification is formed.

This qualitative study was designed to explore the lived experiences of a multiracial/multiethnic individual’s life to in order to better understand their process of racial identification/ethnic identification and thus identity for the express purpose of enhancing therapeutic interventions with this population. The way in which experiences were explored was through addressing the following questions: What are the influencing factors on identity development in multiracial/multiethnic individuals? What, if any, implications do these factors have for the practice of psychology when working with mixed race/ethnicity individuals?

This study revealed three themes that most strongly influenced identity development in the eight participants. The first theme that arose was influential people as participants highlighted social and family groups that made an impact on participants overall sense of belonging. Secondly, the theme of influential moments arose, which joined together experiences in participant’s lives that made them stop and think specifically about their different races/ethnicities. It could be defined for some as their “eureka moment” in their identity selection process. The final theme that emerged from the eight interviews was influential cultural experiences. This theme ranged from specific college courses taken by individuals to pressure around learning cultural rituals, either way, it was experiences in their lives directly linked to increasing knowledge and understanding of one’s specific culture/racial/ethnic group.

Keywords

multiracial, multiethnic, identity development

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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