Mental health and family therapy professionals must respond to the resurgence of race-based trauma experienced by Asian Americans during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic (Cheah et al., 2020). Yet Asian Americans are the lowest helpseeking group for mental health needs (NAMI, n.d.), often due to shame (Masuda & Boone, 2011). Dominant theories of shame resilience (Brown, 2006; Van Vliet, 2008) assume Western norms of an autonomous self, missing important aspects of Asian American collectivist, bicultural, and minority understandings of self, and the salience of interpersonal shame (Wong & Tsai, 2007; Shih et al., 2019; Yeh & Hwang, 2000). Bicultural identity researchers also often describe resilience in terms of individual competence and adaptation (LaFromboise et al., 1993); the impact of racism and social location on bicultural identity and resilience needs to be further explored (Cheng et al., 2014; Nguyen & Benet-Martínez, 2012; Toomey et al., 2013). This qualitative interview study explores themes of shame and resilience from the bicultural identity narratives of 1.5 and second generation Chinese* Americans, in order to develop a grounded theory that conceptualizes bicultural identity construction and shame resilience processes. It is guided by conceptual frameworks that make sociocultural context and interactive meaning-making more visible: symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969) and identity negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey, 2015). Constructionist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2014) also highlights the role of researchers in co-constructing theory with participants (Berger & Luckmann, 1991). Two publishable papers are included: the first paper explores how multiple social location identities influence the experience and meaning of shame for 1.5 and second generation Chinese* Americans; the second paper, building on the first, explores the processes by which participants construct bicultural identity and shame resilience. Findings illuminate how social context and Face and Race identity constructs frame how participants experience shame, with movement from Shame-Influenced to Whole-Self Identity Resilience themes facilitated by Change Processes that promote the reclaiming of whole self. Bicultural lived experience reframes shame as an essential social witness to group health, and offers resilience insights that are relevant to the polarized social climate in American society today. Conceptual, clinical, and personal implications are discussed.

LLU Discipline

Systems, Families, and Couples


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Bryan Cafferky

Second Advisor

Jackie Williams-Reade

Third Advisor

Zephon Lister

Fourth Advisor

Jessica ChenFeng

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Shame; Chinese; Biculturalism--United States; Identity (Psychology).



Page Count

xiii, 179 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives