First Advisor

Ann Marie Fallon

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and University Honors




Music therapy, Indians of North America -- Cultural assimilation, Adjustment (Psychology), Stress (Psychology)




More than any other demographic in the United States, Native American populations experience the highest rate of suicide proportional to population size. This is just one of numerous statistics indicative of the overall status of Native American psychological health. There has been increasing research demonstrating that Native American suicide rate and depression is positively associated with acculturative stress, and negatively associated with traditional heritage cultural integration. Because an increased amount of acculturative stress for Native Americans is correlated with high suicide rate and occurrence of depression, while increased traditional culture integration may be linked to lower suicide rate and occurrence of depression, psychological intervention programs designed for Native Americans could benefit from exploring methods of decreasing acculturative stress while increasing heritage culture retention and exposure. Among the most central aspects of traditional Native American culture (and most cultures throughout human history) is the meaningful inclusion of music. Because music is a construct so intrinsic to the historical human experience, research has shown music as a form of therapy to be a vastly effective means of intervention for a wide variety of psychological issues. Combining the concept of traditional culture retention and exposure together with the construct of music therapy is an effective means of combating acculturative stress for Native American populations. The implementation of this "culture-focused music therapy program" would reduce acculturative stress by increasing and enriching traditional heritage culture identity for Native American individuals under psychological distress, thereby leading to an increase in overall psychological welfare.


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