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This study assessed ethnic identity in adults of Indian origin through Culturally Centered Music & Imagery (CCMI), a music-centered, psychotherapeutic technique that emphasizes socio-cultural context, identity and meaning. The purpose was to examine how participants’ native music, in the context of CCMI, could evoke identity-based imagery and assess ethnic identity in a globalized context. Five cisgender Indian men and women from Hindu backgrounds participated in one CCMI session each, including an interview and follow up discussions. The qualitative methodology of portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997) was used in this study. The results reveal how CCMI can access the cultural and ethnic unconscious, a relatively new area of consciousness in Jungian and GIM paradigms. The study also shows how CCMI can highlight the fluid and multiple nature of ethnic identity, revealing its intersection with other identities such as gender, sexual orientation, caste and religion. In addition, the data support the use of contextual and identity-based music selections in assisting participants to explore, recreate or gain a deeper understanding of their ethnic identity through image and metaphor. Major findings include new categories of ethnic identity such as Aesthetic, Ancestral, Philosophical, Mythological, Spiritual and Core Indian identities. Subthemes include experiences of Rebirth, Disconnection, Unconscious Divide, as well as other socio-cultural identities such as Kaleidoscopic, World Citizen and Global Nomad. These and other themes relate to American, global, spiritual, queer, socio-economic, caste, gendered, and individual contexts. The research also suggests that this technique may be effective in emotionally and psychologically supporting adults who are going through the process of immigration or acculturation.


Book chapter in Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy: A Monograph Series, 13.