The European Graduate School
EST. 1994

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AHS Research Overview 2015

Backstage: other considerations of the theatrical fire

If the actor is looking for an enriching and creative experience in professional theatre, how can it affect him when certain considerations are not taken into account? The research elaborates on the importance of providing a safe environment, of promoting healthy bonding amongst the participants, the need of awareness of the elements that actors work with - such as their personal history, their unconscious, their emotional vulnerabilities - and also the importance of the ritual aspect of theatre. Based on a self-referential exploration process, the investigation begins with the testimony of a painful experience, complemented by images that emerged and accompanied the process. It is followed by a reflection from the expressive arts therapy perspective, which dialogues with authors coming from theatre and psychoanalytic frameworks, and is complemented through interviews with other actors and directors. The discussion is divided into five parts: 1. Theatre, 2. The Actor, 3. Directing, 4. The Process, and 5. Theatre and Expressive Arts Therapy. The last part elaborates on the reasons for which, as Expressive Arts therapists, it is important for us to know this aspect of the professional theatre acting experience.

2015: Master Thesis (Spanish)

Advisor: Mónica Prado Parró

Student: Natalia Parodi Sattui
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Keywords: theatre, theater process, actor, acting, ritual, rituality director, vulnerability, encounter, bonding, purpose, safe environment

Being At Home in the Body Creating Wearable Art to Move in the World

Abstract This thesis documents the experiences of women healing from abuse and violence, who participated in a 12 week Expressive Arts social action group and public presentation at YWCA Toronto. Through an arts based interview participants revisited their experience of the group process and public performance. The data gathered from these interviews and the women’s voices, explores how movement, wearable art, poetry and music, support women to reconnect with their bodies and have a greater sense of their own authentic being. Included is: the group structure and methodology, the challenges, case studies and the arts based interview. Woven into the text are theories of Expressive Arts Therapy, attachment and trauma theories. This research highlights the significance of the arts as a forum for social action for women healing from abuse and violence.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Rowesa Gordon

Student: Carol Barrett
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Keywords: trauma, movement, wearable art, body, self awareness, social action, community

Building Shelters of Belonging and TrustGiving Form to a Soul Sister Connection Through the Rituals of Art-Making, Table-Setting and Nest-Making

This study looks at the conditions that need to be present to nurture the unfolding of a soul sister relationship through the rituals of art-making, table-setting and nest-making. Based on their co-mentorship contract, the co-researchers' intermodal mutual learning experience in liminal space is emphasized. The methodology, rooted in phenomenology and the Expressive Arts, is a mix of heuristic and arts-based research.

This thesis represents an aesthetic and theoretical contemplation, deconstructing the co-researchers' 2.5-year journey. It is a reflection on their creative process of co-constructing eight Shelters of Belonging and Trust while gathering around their co-created hearth, inspired by their muse (or third) Hestia, the Greek mythological figure who tends the personal and communal hearth, home and altar. Their collaboration culminates in a public mixed media installation art exhibit entitled Soul Sisters: A Journey to the Hearth.

Images of a co-facilitated community art installation open each chapter. This connects their experience to the larger world beyond the Soul Sisters work, which makes visible and validates the universal aspect of their personal story in a real way. An alchemical process of integrating image and word supports their individual and joint quest/s.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Rowesa Gordon

Student: Sabine Schneider
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Keywords: soul sisters, co-mentorship, artistic collaboration, integration of words and visual art, poiesis, hestia, kairos, installation art, community art

Children of the IntifadaWhat is the role of the Expressive Arts with children living under occupation?

I explored the role of Expressive Art Therapy with Palestinian children experiencing occupation. Two Expressive Arts groups were conducted, one was in the Al-Fawwaar Refugee Camp at a UNRWA school located in Palestine, and the second one was at Palestine House located in Canada. The group in the refugee camp worked with Expressive Arts in a one day workshop where they explored EXA as therapy. The group in Canada participated in a three day Expressive Art Camp using EXA as a tool for educating both, themselves and the broader Canadian community on the happenings in Palestine. The purpose of this thesis was to bring EXA to Palestinian children as a form of therapy as well as to use their work as a tool for social transformation and peace building, through activist. While working on this thesis, a self-exploration took place and I continue to explore through my own art work.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ellen Levine

Student: Sarah Abusarar
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Keywords: war trauma, memory, palestinian children

Fierce PresenceSensing Duende in Three Research Settings Through the Lens of Expressive Arts Therapy

This thesis enters into the world of duende, the ineffable spirit of flamenco tradition that moves us in the presence of art. It inquires into the possibility: could duende inhabit our work in Expressive Arts Therapy? If so, how do we know its presence, and how does it affect our relationships? Resonance between the theory and phenomenology of duende and the theory and praxis of Expressive Arts are reviewed in literature from both fields and supported by phenomenological, auto-ethnographic, and arts-based research methods. The inspiration for this project sprang from the author's experience leading flamenco dance workshops in an inner-city neighbourhood in Vancouver, Canada, where students of flamenco became co-researchers in this study. From there, the research broadened to include the author's perspectives on the presence of duende in her work with Expressive Arts Therapy clients. Themes of surrender, sensation, communion, truth, courage, and mystery are explored in the Discussion. In the course of this writing, duende came forward as a presence that engages us fiercely and authentically with our being-in-the-world. It made itself known in surprising moments of aliveness in the artistic process that provoked a visceral sense of awe, bringing the author closer with her clients' courageous acts of resistance. Finally, this thesis points to the possibility of duende as an embodied ethics for work in the Expressive Arts.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Kelty McKerracher
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Keywords: duende, flamenco, phenomenology, arts-based research, auto-ethnography, ethics, resistance

Fun at Work Improvisational Theatre as Expressive Arts Modality

Lauren Stein, Improvist Extraordinaire, sets out to demonstrate the value of her favourite art form. She leads eight co-workers of a Toronto tech firm through an inquiry exploring their creativity with journaling and techniques in improvisation. The neophytes comfortably create improvised plays. Throughout and beyond the six sessions, she embarks on a journey of her own development. She serves up a smorgasbord of comparative theories in therapy and theatrical healing, and embarks on a musical time-travelling adventure through the history of improvisational theatre. When she delves into the journals and follow-up interviews of her participants, she finds that her fun and seemingly superficial exercises in improvisation have apparently serious effects on the confidence, self-perception, work-life balance, and empathy of her participants. Follow our exuberant heroine as she presents new research in an accessible and entertaining style that you won’t soon forget.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Paul Antze

Student: Lauren Stein
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Keywords: improvisational theatre, journaling, salutogenesis, play, arts-based research

Holding the Light An Unexpected Journey Where Disability Meets Possibility

This thesis explores how expressive arts, through a shadow puppet play, enhances resilience in the life of a parent of a child with disabilities. It is personal and passionate, with research that delves into the historical models of disability and the emergence of the social model of disabilities as a way of painting a picture of the world that remains hidden in the shadows. A study of some of the literature and theories around the social ecology of resilience is followed by an examination of how the concepts of salutogenisis, decentering and communitas within the principles of expressive arts therapy, offer potential for reaching beyond the limits encountered, imposed and collected. I started with a solitary exploration of the art of story and then moved intermodally into a shadow puppet play that transformed into a collaborative piece with my family as co-creators. This was an unexpected journey, not always traveled with ease, and it is one for which I will be eternally grateful.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Mary Reich

Student: Angela Carroll-Wallace
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Keywords: disability, social model of disability, salutogenesis, resilience, social ecology of resilience, shadow puppet play, story, caregiver, family

Learning in HarmonyMusic Education Informed by Expressive Arts Therapy

In Learning in Harmony, I explore the integration of expressive arts ways of working within the context of education. I consider the role of the music teacher, traditionally authoritative, compared to the more accepting and non-judgemental role of the expressive arts therapist. By focussing on engaging students' creativity and encouraging meaningful expression, while also building skill, the way I approach every lesson changes. I come to the question: How does incorporating Expressive Arts frame learning experiences in a way that respects the child as a creative being?

My research draws on my experience integrating expressive arts into a free after-school program for underserved youth. I examine the way I set the frame for each lesson – limiting the materials and focussing on specific skills being learnt, while also incorporating low-skill, high-sensitivity work, free play and creative expression. Defining limits and developing respectful relationships become important themes.

I also include excerpts from interviews with two of my colleagues, which I respond to aesthetically through painting. In exploring others' ideas about student-teacher relationships through an arts-based process, I gain new perspective. Ultimately, I explore the ways in which working creatively allows for healthy classroom dynamics. Through the act of imagination we are able to create a safe space where there is the possibility to respond creatively to conflicts.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Markus Alexander

Student: Alexandra Campbell
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Keywords: education, poiesis, nurturing creativity, arts-based research, heuristic research, exa classroom, music, non-directive, student teacher relationship, classroom management, respect

Let's Fly TogetherLiving recovery: a case study in Expressive Arts Therapy

This thesis is an artful journey to an unknown destination. This is the journey of ‘A’; a 27 year old woman who is currently living in ‘Shakti Rising’ a social change organization in San Diego, wanting to challenge her beliefs and boundaries, to explore the range of her movement, to learn to trust the knowledge of her body and to feel more comfortable dancing throughout life. This is the story of an EXA intern that wanted to close her eyes and fly. In this journey you will learn about the amazing healing powers of the arts, about the importance of presence, the mystery of imagination and the surprises that can emerge along the way.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Judith Greer Essex

Student: Shaina Sivan Yedid
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Keywords: case study, recovery, recovering, movement, trust the process, presence, woman

Navigating ChangeAn Exploration of Ritual and its Relationship to Expressive Arts Therapy

Propelled by a life-long inquiry into the mechanisms that create change in our lives, in this thesis I have explored the nature of ritual and its relationship to Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA). I begin by using the lens of hermeneutic research to look out, gathering the thoughts of others, with the goal of understanding the form, content and purpose of ritual. With this knowledge as a foundation I then turn to heuristic research, as defined by Clark Moustakas, to investigate the essence of ritual. To accomplish this task, I have conducted three separate experiments, exploring the creation of ritual individually, with community and in partnership. The final focus of the thesis is Expressive Arts Therapy: an exploration of what characteristics it shares with ritual and how both can be strengthened through an awareness and appreciation of the other.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Barbara Hielscher-Witte

Student: Catriona Main
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Keywords: ritual, rites of passage, liminality

Somewhere Between Here and ThereNavigating Intercultural Transitions

This thesis documents the experiences of three young female international interns navigating shifts in self-concept and cultural identity upon return to their home culture. Each participant received a total of four, one-hour individual Expressive Arts therapy sessions facilitated over Skype. Art-based research was used as a methodology to generate and interpret data gathered from the 12 sessions, that explored the thesis question: What happens when international aid interns participate in expressive arts sessions with the intention to integrate their experience of working abroad? This research highlights the capacity of the Expressive Arts to contain and work through disorienting shifts in identity while emphasizing resources. Overall, this process offered an alternative medium to translate, articulate and share their rich range of multifaceted experiences, which initially appeared inexplicable.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Mary Reich

Student: Trishia Unrau
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Keywords: culture shock, international interns, identity, intercultural transitions

The Lantern's Gift: Resilience Through Image

This thesis explores how Expressive Arts Therapy helps an individual access resources through discovering and exploring companion images and personal narratives. Concepts addressed in the literature review include an exploration of salutogenesis and the journey to resilience through the use of imagination and the ways in which image and story can assist in shifting one's personal narrative to a greater sense of coherence. The research section consists of both arts-based heuristic and qualitative research. The heuristic research focuses on the author's exploration of the theme and subsequent research. The qualitative research reflects a description of an eight-week expressive arts group exploring emergent and attractor images and stories. The inquiry reflects the importance of a postmodern approach in allowing clients space to work both phenomenologically and anthropologically.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Judith Greer Essex

Student: Sarah Karpicus
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Keywords: imagination, resilience, myth, storytelling, companion image, emergent, post modern, salutogenesis

The Moon, the Womb, and the WoundAn Expressive Arts Therapy Exploration of Birth Trauma

This thesis explores how Expressive Arts Therapy can help women heal from trauma experienced during the birth of their child. Over the course of an eight-week workshop the arts and imagination were used to explore themes around the birth process, motherhood and the images that arose. Through the lens of art as a resource, encountering the imagination, a shift in each woman's relationship to the birth takes place. The narrative of trauma was transformed and through the Expressive Arts Therapy process a sense of community and support led each woman to have a change in perspective, self-acceptance, and the ability to move forward.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Judith Greer Essex

Student: Carey Kramer
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Keywords: birth trauma, c-section recovery, art as resource

The Path of the Heroine From Dependence to Liberation by EXA

How EXA can help women with dependencies? Based on a self-referential exploration process, the researcher uses different elements attached to her cigarette dependence as art material, previously collected. Decentering "with" the problem facilitates the withdrawal of Eros “in service of death” toward the creation of art, to finally crystallizing in five tangible works. Concepts related to dependencies and addictions are reviewed from the biological, psychological, sociological and ontological perspectives. The dialogue between experience and theory concludes that the EXA may itself help people to explore their dependencies and become, along the way, in the hero and heroine of their own lives. A workshop is proposed, in which the individual process exposed is recommended, as well as the work of the body and the group sessions framed by a ritual.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Jose Miguel Calderon

Student: Maria Margarida Goncalves de Gastelumendi
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Keywords: dependences, addictions, women, elements of addiccion as art materials, theories from biological, psychological, archetypal sustrata

The Zeppelin Flight My First Expressive Arts Love Story: Working With Children With Cancer

This thesis demonstrates how the Expressive Arts, as an unique ingredient in therapeutic interventions, was able to help children with cancer better face their illness in the hospital environment, as well as impact my life towards growing up, becoming responsible and existentially enriched. I tell the story of working for three years in a hospital with children with cancer. The theoretical section presents expressive arts and play as essential to human healing and personal growth, then describes more specifically the field of working in hospitals with children with cancer. In the clinical setting section, questions of when, what, how, why, and where, are answered, in order to offer a concrete image of the work. The Theory of Practice section presents medical art, play therapy, and art making as powerful partners in healing and in providing coping mechanisms for children with cancer. I express my personal resonance with my professional work using the method of letter writing and painting as aesthetic responses to my experience.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Margo Fuchs Knill

Student: Alina Tomsa
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Keywords: children with cancer, medical art therapy, play therapy, love, clinical, letter writing

Voice as PhenomenonThe creative use of the voice on the base of its natural forces

This master thesis deals with the creative use of the voice primarily from a physiological perspective. As a basis for understanding voice work, aspects of physiology are especially important. Analogies to natural and universal phenomena are drawn as well. Physical processes of expanding the quality of vocal range will be discussed. The effects that the voice has on the mind and body will also be elaborated upon. Empirical surveys are to assist in forming an intuitive understanding of the voice. This is a theoretical work. Sensory experiences find their form in descriptions. The creative voice work described corresponds to some of the primary components of Expressive Arts. The natural voice can be expanded and extended through creative, physiological and intimate processes. In this thesis different stages of life in connection to the voice are examined in detail.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Barbara Hielscher-Witte

Student: Nicole Lewin
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Keywords: voice, singing, vocal training, phenomenon, universal-natural forces, physiology, anatomy, development of the voice and in different phases of life

What Do the Arts have to Offer Women Who Have Been Traumatized by a Variety of Experiences?Can Art Interventions Be Implemented in a Time Limited Frame and Still Be Effective?

This paper is looking at women who have experienced diverse sources of trauma from motor vehicle accidents, childhood sexual abuse, incest and neglect, spousal abuse, abnormal and sudden loss of a parent during childhood and facing life-threatening illnesses whilst providing Expressive Arts in a limited time frame. Five Women participated in this research that consisted of a one-day group Expressive Art workshop and one individual Expressive Art Session four months later IN 2015. A qualitative, phenomenological case study design with a purposive snowball sampling was used in a large city in Ontario, Canada. An appendix is included to show images. A comparative and contrasting approach of Expressive Arts and other psychotherapeutic frameworks used in trauma recovery is included.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ellen Levine

Student: Angela Brown
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Keywords: women, trauma, time-limited framework, qualitative, purposive snowball sample, large city in canada, workshop, individual session

With the wings of imaginationCultivating a sense of agency through Expressive Arts

A sense of agency is a sense of one's self as a distinct agentive entity in the world that is capable of shaping one's life through one's own actions. It is important since it provides a sense of hope, vitality, and resilience against various challenges one may face in life. The aim of this thesis is to explore Expressive Arts as a possible effective method for the cultivation of a sense of agency. I conducted arts-based qualitative phenomenological research on the theme by facilitating 10 weekly Expressive Arts sessions for Japanese immigrant women in Canada as co-researchers. The result indicates that Expressive Arts restore and cultivate this innate creative capacity effectively by resorting to the innovative and integrative power of imagination and the holding, manifesting, and transforming power of the arts. Expressive Arts provide sources of a sense of agency at various levels. They facilitate mastery experience and social persuasion through the process of self-exploration, self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-transformation. They also provide social modelling through the power of play and authentic expression in a group setting, and improve physical and emotional states by sensitizing the body and integrating personality on a deeper foundation. Cultivation of a sense of agency through Expressive Arts opens up possibility of exercising proxy and collective agency that respect individual differences and individual agency.

2015: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Barbara Hielscher-Witte

Student: Naoko Sasaki
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Keywords: imagination, a sense of agency, japanese women