The European Graduate School
EST. 1994

Arts, Health and Society Division

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AHS Research Overview 2009

A Ritual Journey Towards ChangeExploring the Human Condition with Women in Alcohol Recovery

Alcohol addiction is highly ritualized and can be triggered by trauma in life. This thesis addresses the hypothesis that substitution of this ritual with aesthetic expression has transformative potential. It does so by examining a sixteen-week experiment in ritually focused group therapy led by the author at a rehabilitation center for women addicts in San Diego. The results of this work suggest that sessions combining ritually framed art-making and theater in conjunction with more formally staged aesthetic rituals can be an effective vehicle for authentic self-exploration. A supportive community developed in which group members appeared more willing to take risks thus widening their range of play. The expressive opportunities afforded by liminoid and liminal elements in the group's rituals helped participants to see themselves in more open, less addiction-bound terms.

2009: Master Thesis (English)
magna cum laude

Advisor: Paul Antze

Student: Kathrin Keune
E-Mail

Keywords: ritual, alcohol recovery, theater

ANGAKUT: seeing with closed eyesExpressive Arts Shamanism

This thesis compares and contrasts shamanism and expressive arts therapy, the roots of both fields and the current philosophies and practices that are foundational to each, noting parallels and places of departure between the two. The research is based on a soul retrieval course where learned practices of shamanism and expressive arts therapy were used together in a four-day workshop. The work is based on the premise that both fields of healing minister to the soul. Soul and soul loss, ritual, liminality, and the role and use of the arts are examined from both perspectives. Shamans embody the arts in all ways. The research concludes that expressive arts therapy is a contemporary manifestation of shamanism and a returning to the expressive artist's roots. I will also suggest that expressive arts therapy can offer ethics to contemporary shamanism.  Art is soul medicine. I suggest 'expressive arts shamanism as an act of healing the estrangement from spirituality currently found in the field of expressive arts.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Christine Selda
E-Mail

Keywords: shamanism, healing, soul, ritual

Applying the Expressive Arts to Worship

This thesis explores the blending of worship and the expressive arts within an evangelical Christian context. As Christian leaders and scholars champion the value of imagination, creativity, and play within worship, contemporary churches are now inviting the reintegration of the arts. Although there are certain similarities between Expressive Arts Therapy and Christian worship, no research on their interrelationship has been published. While offering a weekly faith-based group experience, the researcher observed first hand the ways in which elements of each practice combine and interrelate with each other. The researcher's observations and client responses indicate that the expressive arts do enhance worship experiences. Further research is required on the practice of incorporating Expressive Arts Therapy within worship and its potential benefits.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Janice Cywinski
E-Mail

Keywords: expressive arts and christian worship

Conversations at the edge of the numinous

In this thesis, I explore numinous experience in Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA). Numinous experience, as the powerful experience of the sensed presence of a non-concrete "other", is a variant of human experience that has often been seen as deviant, especially in a medical model of illness. Moving away from the idea of illness (hallucination or delusion) and having an appreciation for the numinous, it can be conceived as a bodily-given potential for guiding images. The expressive arts provide an approach to utilize creativity to image through all the modalities of imagination (visual images, movement, words, acts, sounds, rhythms) to encourage the emergence of works of art. The approach is artistic and the inquiry seeks to deepen experience and expand the possibilities of the numinous in the language of the arts, particularly because the experience itself is by its very nature compelling, inexplicable, and difficult to express otherwise. The arts can allow movement from the inexplicable, felt-sense numinous through the imaginative reality of artistic work and effective reality bridging to everyday life that confirms the world. The exploration is phenomenological and heuristic. The starting point is my own experience in viewing the numinous in an arts-based approach, as well as the participation of three co-researchers. The expressive arts were employed to image experience and follow the movement and direction of the images, to contain the mystery and pathos of the image within an imaginative framework, to shape and be shaped by the images, reflect on the images that have a life of their own, and to find new perspectives to contend with worldly realities and situations.

2009: Master Thesis (English)
magna cum laude

Advisor: Paul Antze

Student: Kali Dukowski
E-Mail

Keywords: phenomenology, numinous, soul, trauma, liminal

Creating Headlines - Stories from below the surfaceExpressive Arts Therapy with a social change intention offered in a Harm Reduction environment to people living with HIV/AIDS

This thesis explores the possibilities of offering expressive arts programming with a social change intention in a harm reduction environment for people living with HIV/AIDS. How can a social change perspective contribute to the field of expressive arts and to therapeutic practice? The research setting has been the Dr. Peter Centre West End in Vancouver, Canada - a Day Health Program for people living with HIV/AIDS who face multiple challenges. Stigmatization and marginalization mark their lives; access to housing, social and health support are challenging. This arts-based research project engaged the perspective of dialogical action theory, and employed a phenomenological and heuristic perspective. Through the playground of the arts, participants experienced themselves as listened to, witnessed, and valued - which created a sense of belonging. Individually and in response to each other, participants communicated what thus far had seemed impossible due to fear of judgment and relegation to the margins. The importance of an opportunity for expression, with varied entry points and carried by a strong sense of acceptance, was confirmed and emphasized by the artists. Adopting a social change perspective is the recommended and possibly crucial approach when working in a therapeutic context with people living on the margins.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Heather Barrett
E-Mail

Keywords: social change, hiv/aids, dialogical action theory, phenomenological and heuristic perspective

Creative Dance and Expressive Arts in Traditional EducationBuilding Successful Learners and Citizens

This thesis presents a case study of a creative dance residency, integrating Expressive Arts theories and methods, in seven kindergarten and first grade classes. It looks carefully at the benefits that creative dance and Expressive Arts provides in a classroom setting and how these benefits might prepare students to become successful learners and citizens.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Judith Greer Essex

Student: Jennifer Oliver
E-Mail

Keywords: case study, creative dance residency, kindergarten, first grade classes

Die "Künstlerische Haltung", eine Hilfe bei der Leidensbewältigung?

The following research will be about the soul suffering of the human being. By the term "soul suffering of the human being" I do not mean a 'Via Dolorosa', but psychological suffering which may be caused by an existentially threatening disease like cancer. On the other hand there is a phenomenon which shows that people still suffer if all their needs seem to be satisfied. I shall write about this sort of suffering from a spiritual and philosophical point of view. It is the aim of this master thesis to reflect the following questions: 1. Can life as such be understood as a process of art? 2. Can an "attitude of art" be helpful in the attempt to soothe suffering and can it promote and support processes of maturity? 3. Can the action of art change the life quality of people suffering from cancer?

2009: Master Thesis (German)

Advisor: Margo Fuchs

Student: Gudrun Gwisdek
E-Mail

Keywords: soul suffering, cancer, life as a process of art

Dionysos and ShamanAn Exploration of Metaphor in the Field of Expressive Arts Therapy

Is there an underlying structure to the metaphoric content of the field narrative of Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy as taught at the European Graduate School and as practiced by its graduates? What might the metaphors of the field of expressive arts therapy reveal or conceal about the field itself? The topic is approached through a broad survey of published works and lectures by four prominent thinkers and practitioners in the field of expressive arts therapy; Shaun McNiff, Paolo Knill, Stephen K. Levine, and Ellen Levine. This survey focuses on metaphor and poetics within the works, rather than upon theoretical content. The metaphors selected for closer examination are those related to the field narrative, which address the basic question: "How does the language we use to tell our field narrative reflect our overall impression of what we are doing?" For each thinker, three of the most prominent metaphors are examined in the larger cultural and linguistic context in which they reside. Then each is taken through a logical extrapolation asking what specific area of the field narrative might it address, and what implications for praxis can be drawn from the interpenetration of the field narrative and broader cultural context. The author conducts a similar examination from a heuristic perspective of her own working metaphors, and those of her graduate students. A summary examines the question of whether the body of metaphors examined lead towards a congruent field narrative. A literature review examines the prominence and role of metaphor in the related helping professions of psychotherapy, dance movement therapy and family therapy and within the literature of the arts.

2009: Ph.D. Dissertation (English)

Advisor: Stephen K. Levine

Student: Judith Greer Essex
E-Mail
Website

Keywords: metaphors, poetics, narrative, cultural and linguistic context

Home

"There is no place like home". Being home is different for each of us and is more than just a roof over our heads. In this study, I will be examining the secret ingredients that give that special loving sense of warmth and security to our homes. For the expatriate community finding a home away from home adds another dimension to what is needed. This international dimension can be a confusing and chaotic experience but if the necessary steps are taken to recreate a sense of belonging it can become a rich and positive one. The expressive arts enhance the expatriate experience. Art making stimulates connection to others and the emergence of self understanding. It helps the expat to metabolize a new identity and establish roots in the new country.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ellen G. Levine

Student: Julie Korp
E-Mail

Keywords: home, expatriate, new identity, new country

Kunst orientiertDie Gestaltung zwischenmenschlicher Beziehungen

The first part of this thesis gives insight into the many-layered formation of interpersonal relationships. It illumines the factors that have an effect on interpersonal as well as the individual life path/development. Based on Martin Buber's "communication theory", the systemic approach after Virginia Satir and the humanistic approach of Carl Rogers the general approach of the counselor in Training and Coaching are reflected upon.
The discussion is led through an investigation of my own biographical junctures, which have not least resulted in the decision to become an independent coach and trainer.
The second part of the thesis is grounded in the art orientation of Coaching and Training as a resource oriented approach. Its ability to open new options in difficult situations as experienced by the client in his own context, as well as a vehicle of communication from the trainer to the client are developed.
The approach and result of the art-oriented approach on the human being are elucidated extensively in theory and through practical examples.

2009: Master Thesis (German)

Advisor: Annette Ottersen

Student: Stefanie Betz
E-Mail

Keywords: interpersonal relationships, martin buber, virginia satir, carl rogers

MAGIC MIRRORSelf-Portraiture in One-on-One Expressive Arts Therapy

What happens when we reflect upon that image that we call our face? How do our relationships with our reflected faces along with other faces play into our ideas of what and who we suppose ourselves to be (and to be becoming) and of what we are not?
These are some of the questions behind this thesis. They led me in turn to another, more specific question: What happens when a client in one-on-one expressive arts therapy follows her or his reflected face-image in the mirror and attempts to draw it as a separate thing — as a self-portrait, as it appears to be, "staying on the surface"?
In order to explore these questions and their accompanying ideas, I have been following a train of stories from depth psychology, from fiction, from biography, from dreams, and from conversations with research subjects.
This paper follows five client-subjects as each draws a portrait from her/his reflection in a mirror. Each does so within the context of one-on-one psychotherapy. The imagery that emerges as portraiture and as subsequent aesthetic response is presented here along with my reflections. These reflections include some apparent patterns together with my thoughts about their possible implications for expressive arts therapy.
This study has led me, I think, to a better grasp of the phenomenology of identity. It has, as well, shown the potency and usefulness of certain expressive arts ideas and practices. Above all, It has revealed the power of the self-portrait image to inform and to transform.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Paul Antze

Student: Brian Michael Condie
E-Mail

Keywords: self-portraiture, face, image, reflection in a mirror, identity

Shoes and Ships - and Sealing WaxCabbages and Kings: Investigating the Nature and Power of Play in Expressive Arts Therapy

 This thesis looks through a kaleidoscope to examine and observe the topic of play from many angles. Utilizing Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a metaphor, the author ascertains whether art-making has the power to lead individuals whose spontaneous play has been lost into Wonderland. Through the development of a "Story Show" theater class, a possible connection between the dramatic play of preschoolers and the art making decentering employed in expressive arts therapy is revealed. The specific use of clowning and storytelling facilitates the author's investigation of her own relationship to play and provides a way to awaken the senses, jumpstart the imagination, and broaden the play range of individuals in crisis. 

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Rebekah Windmiller

Student: Melinda Ferraraccio
E-Mail

Keywords: play, alice’s adventures in wonderland, clowning, storytelling

Vom Handarbeitszimmer zum AtelierEine Neudefinition und ihre Folgen

This paper shows a change process within existing structures of a public elementary school. By means of various projects the author makes understandable how free space can be created by restructuring both the classroom and the subjects. Another access to the work is thus made possible. The explorations with materials and various techniques, together with the tasks that are furthered, stand in the foreground. The student's self-reliance is the focus of the individual projects. This means that the activities of the teacher have to change and adapt. The thesis gives several examples showing how the author works differently in her classroom and how these new ways of communication and work-processes help the students to develop their self concepts.

2009: Master Thesis (German)

Advisor: Brigitte Wanzenried

Student: Sara Bertschi
E-Mail

Keywords: public elementary school, new ways of communication and work-processes

Where is the Playground?The Possibility of Expressive Arts Therapy with Elders in Residential Care.

This thesis investigates the possibility of expressive arts therapy with elders living in a residential care environment. Theories on aging from the field of geriatrics, gerontology, and developmental psychology, offer perspectives which challenge misconceptions often associated with elders experiencing physical and cognitive decline. In her role as a volunteer, the authorʼs open and receptive approach, grounded in theories of play, followed and supported the eldersʼ spontaneous expressions and imaginative wanderings. The authorʼs proposed phenomenological research protocol did not meet the siteʼs requirements for a behavioral study, and permission to document the residentsʼ art material was denied. In response to this situation, the author developed a heuristic arts-based research design, which included her own aesthetic responses to the work created by the residents. The authorʼs paintings and poems, and enactments explored in supervision, communicate themes and essences informed by her work with two residents. The residentsʼ artistic expressions created a shared reality, a point of connection between themselves and the author. The opportunity to share their imaginative reality decreased the residentsʼ sense of isolation and despair. A restored sense of play increased the residentsʼ vitality and motivation, transforming the restricted space of a hospital setting into a world of limitless potential.

2009: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Katherine Bowie
E-Mail

Keywords: elders, play, dementia, residential care