Sheeba P. Thomas is a 2014 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

  • Gargi Roysircar-Sodowsky, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • David Hamolsky, Psy.D. Committee Member
  • William Slammon, Ph.D. Committee Member


acculturation, internalization, parent-child communication, immigrants, Asian Indian Americans

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Children of Asian Indian immigrants in the United States vary in their acculturation from their parents to American culture and society. The U.S.-born second-generation and those who immigrate at an early age may be at risk for emotional and behavioral difficulties. The present study investigated whether certain sociocultural factors related to the negative adjustment of second-generation Asian Indian college students. A survey method measured acculturation, acculturative family distancing, perceived prejudice, and internalization difficulties (i.e., depression, trait anxiety, somatic symptoms, and self-critical perfectionism) of second-generation Asian Indian college students (N = 60), ages 19–25. The sample was primarily Keralite (64.5%) with cultural roots in Southern India, Christian (64.6%), and from the Northeast region of the US. The online survey consisted of Likert-type measures followed by two open-ended questions. College students reported a bicultural mode of acculturation, being adaptive to both mainstream culture and their family’s culture of origin. Parent-child communication difficulties, as reported by the participants, were found to be a significant predictor of internalization problems. Self-critical perfectionism and trait anxiety were the primary problems noted in this particular Asian Indian student sample. The students reported a moderate level of perceived prejudice, which was not related to internalization. From qualitative content analysis, some consistent themes emerged, such as, students’ high academic stress, feelings of inability to meet expectations set for oneself, and the need to protect others and self by not discussing emotional difficulties. Participants, nonetheless, acknowledged exaggerating difficulties more than underreporting them. Recommendations are made for prevention and intervention methods to be used by mental health providers, communities, and schools that have Asian Indian children and youth. Future directions in research and the study’s limitations are addressed.