The European Graduate School
EST. 1994

Arts, Health and Society Division

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AHS Research Overview 2017

"Der Weg ist das Ziel" or "The way is the goal", Occupational therapy meets Expressiv Arts Therapy

This thesis explores applying Expressive Arts Therapy to an Occupational Therapy setting with patients suffering mental illness. By investigating how they think and feel regarding their arts and crafts work related to the experi- ence and application to their lives. A qualitative approach with phenomenolog- ical content was chosen based on observation through implementation of play- ful-creative exercises by considering the concept of low- skill-high-sensitivity into an occupational therapy setting. As a result of the interviews it can

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Barbara Hielscher-Witte

Student: Hope Ulrike
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Keywords: mental health, occupational therapy, expressiv arts therapy, arts and crafts

A deeper understanding of my relationship with the Creator, creation and the act of creating

This thesis is a personal journey, a deeper understanding of my relationship with God as Creator. In my thesis, I explore how this relationship connects to me being an artist and becoming an expressive arts therapist. The thesis is broken up into four major sections. Firstly, I discuss my personal relationship with God as Creator, how it was built and how it has guided my life. I also add to my biblical understanding of God as Creator and how it reflects on important themes such as suffering, sin and salvation. Secondly, I discuss my journey of becoming an artist, the art process and how my understanding of art developed throughout the years. I explore the relationship between art and how it connects to the Christian faith and life. Thirdly, I examine the main overlapping principles between expressive arts therapy and Christianity, discuss their similarities and differences. I conclude my thesis in reflecting on how these themes have impacted me on my journey of becoming an expressive arts therapist.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Barbara Hielscher-Witte

Student: Anli Recker
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Keywords: poiesis, christianity, creator, creation, artist, suffering, limitations, art making process, eating disorders.

Birds on the Wire: A journey into intermodal play in EXA therapy with older adult women

This thesis explores the benefits older adult women may experience when they play intermodally in the expressive arts therapies. A brief overview of what adult play appears to represent in Western Culture is addressed, as well as a view of how anthropological, psychological and philosophical theories of adult play have been considered through time and culture. An expressive arts theory of play and intermodality is highlighted, with an invitation to personal insight through the decentering and crystallization phases. The use of simple materials were utilized to promote a mixture of playfulness and challenge. Through an arts based, phenomenological and heuristic lens, I have considered how the women’s experiences during the process of play in our sessions facilitated growth in self-confidence and empathy as individuals and as a group. The importance of a safe space is recognized as a crucial ingredient to promote a bountiful harvest from play. This research became a surprising and revelatory journey in learning to trust the creative process, for myself as well as well as for the other women in the group. Interconnectedness is recognized between the arts, living beings, and play through the metaphor of the universe.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Chrissandra Unger
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Keywords: play, older age women, intermodality, decentering, crystallization, metaphor, elements of the arts, universe, interconnectedness

Encounter on the Rainbow Bridge

In Encounter on the Rainbow Bridge, I explore Expressive Arts’ ways of coaching, consulting and education to deepen the response to children diagnosed with Autism in the early learning environment. I consider the role of the educational assistant trained in Expressive Arts assisting the teacher in the classroom, Expressive Arts sessions at the family home and coaching sessions with a teacher working in a preschool classroom. In the mainstream school system, the educators guiding strategies are based on applied behaviour analysis focussing on language, occupational therapy and behaviour to help the child in the integrated setting. As I am exploring benefits of an added Expressive Arts approach to reach and meet children with challenges, I came to the question: How do early childhood educators deepen their presence and multileveled awareness in response to children diagnosed with Autism using intermodal Expressive Arts methodologies? My research examines ways of utilizing Expressive Arts coaching as an educator to: deepen the response of being present; have multileveled awareness; and be inspired, caring and subtle in the encounter with the child that has challenges with the senses, language and socialization in a neurotypical environment and help nurture their neurodiverse abilities of learning and integration. I include interviews in the research with an artist working with autistic children, parents, an Autism specialist and observations from alternative teaching models.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Markus Scott-Alexander

Student: Stephanie Gruss
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Keywords: autism early childhood educators presence multilevel awareness developing language social skills qualities being meltdown sensory integration

EXPRESSIVE ARTS AND SCHOOL READINESS. Expressive Arts as a Component of a School Readiness

This thesis examines aesthetic education and its contribution to school readiness in preschool aged children. Studies reveal the importance and impact that the arts play in early childhood development. Eight children from various cultural backgrounds and school readiness skill levels attended preschool together. This thesis presents the integration of the expressive arts within a preschool setting in which the therapist is able to observe and take notes of changes in a to-and-from standpoint for the children, individually, and as a group. My research included working directly with the children, using my skills and knowledge as an expressive arts therapist, and observing their changes in skills and behaviors as time progressed, to gain insight and understanding of the benefits and contributions that the arts have in early childhood development.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Wes Chester

Student: Stephanie Cruz
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Keywords: aesthetics, school readiness, prekindergarten, play and development, arts in early childhood, intermodal, phenomenology, low skill, high sensitivity

Expressive Arts Therapy And Restorative Circle Practices in Education Re-imagining Conflict Transformation in the Classroom

The central question of the thesis asks, “How can an expressive arts therapy (EXA) framework support the design and delivery of restorative practice circles to build and strengthen community in an educational setting for youth impacted by homelessness?” This thesis presents an arts-based research case study on restorative justice practices in an alternative education setting with homeless children in San Diego, California. A combination of EXA principles and practices, arts-based research methods and restorative practices offer a pivotal framework for inquiry in conducting restorative circles with elementary school students. The systemic influences of homelessness and poverty influence how conflict transformation and peacebuilding approaches are applied in all phases of restorative circle processes. This interdisciplinary project highlights how intermodal art-making, improvisation and ritual support students to navigate differences and complex conflict dynamics in generative ways.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Wes Chester

Student: Jamie Harris Rosen
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Keywords: english: expressive arts, spielraum, improvisation, restorative circles, communitas, peacebuilding, conflict transformation, homless students, poverty

Expressive Arts, the Noble Dark Feminine & The Art of Soul-Making

My struggle with severe creative block triggered a journey downward into a creative dark night and opened an encounter with the dark Feminine energy. The methods of following what lights up, essential character development and shadow work are how I explored this underworld terrain. I questioned: How can the noble Dark Feminine nurture the creative process of authoring ones self? Archetypal psychologist, Hillman, advocates that the nobility of the dark lies in the depths of the soul which is feminine in nature. I learned that the multiplicity of intermodal art is the soul’s native language and her craft is that of soul-making. As an expressive arts coach I embody the image of the dark feminine to facilitate what naturally wants to emerge from the soulful depths creative wisdom.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Markus Scott-Alexander

Student: Alison Seveon
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Keywords: expressive arts dark feminine soul characters felt sense authoring oneself creativity

Expressive Arts-based Activities and Gefühlsmonster Cards to Engage Children with their Key Emotions

Emotional expression is an effective means of self-expression and communication with others. Expressive Arts Therapy is a therapeutic orientation that elicits emotional expression through the arts. This research study explores the ways in which Expressive Arts Therapy can assist children in engaging with their key emotions. Gefühlsmonster cards were used as a springboard into expressive arts-based activities so that children could begin navigating their emotional lives.

A qualitative research approach was best suited for this study, enabling an in-depth perspective into the emotional lives of children. A collective case study design was deployed in order to explore the key emotions of five children (boys, aged between 8 and 13 years). Children were selected on the basis of their potential to benefit from emotional support through therapeutic intervention.

 

Data was collected during eight therapy sessions with each child. Thematic network analysis was used to analyse the data, drawing on two theories: Ekman, Friesen and Ellsworth’s six basic emotions, and Greenberg and Watson’s first two principles of emotional change for therapeutic intervention.

 

The findings highlight the effectiveness of expressive arts-based activities in conjunction with Gefühlmonster cards for emotional work with children. Four predominant key emotions were expressed and explored by all children, these being ‘happiness’, ‘sadness’, ‘anger’ and ‘fear’.  Expressive Arts Therapy can therefore be seen as a pathway for children to actively engage in identifying and mastering their emotions, thus assisting in the development of coping skills.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Barbara Hielscher-Witte

Student: Joanne Anagnostu
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Keywords: emotional expression, expressive arts therapy, children, engage, key emotions, expressive arts-based activities, gefühlsmonster cards

Finding a Bridge to Communicate Through the Arts - For People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

How can I provide expressive arts therapy (EXA) to a client who has no communication skills and extremely low life skills due to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Just because someone is non-verbal, or has low life skills, does not mean that they need to be in isolation. The arts are a form of communication. Non-verbal, communicative dialogue using movements, sounds and images can be very powerful, especially in a therapeutic situation. People with autism have feelings and emotions just like everyone else. However, some of them may not develop any language skills at all, and as a consequence, they have no words to express their feelings and emotions. Expressive arts therapy can be the bridge that provides a way for them to communicate their feelings and emotions, helping themselves and others make sense of them. This process can open the door to healing their personal emotional experiences. This thesis describes how to communicate and connect, through the arts, with people who are affected by autism. It demonstrates the benefits of expressive arts therapy in the treatment of ASD. It contains three case studies of young adults with ASD and shows how they progress through different emotional stages, expressing themselves in various ways though the arts in individual therapy sessions.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ofir Gabay

Student: Ellen Eun Young Yang
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Keywords: autism, therapeutic relationship, empathy , presence , trust

How do Intermodal, Body-Centered Expressive Arts Support a Healing Process: Case Studies from a Cancer Support Group

This thesis presents case studies from a women’s cancer support group through art-based, phenomenological research. Relevant expressive arts principles, methodologies, and architecture of sessions are examined. Expressive movement, guided imagery, sound, art, dialogue, role-play, enactment and writing were used in intermodal expressive arts processes to explore feelings, emotions and issues related to illness and healing. Engaging, enlivening the senses, and deepening the relationship to the emergent image and metaphor through embodiment, allowed for insights and shifts to occur on a physical, emotional and mental level. The interplay between the physical, emotional felt sense and the imaginal resourced the client, their imagination and their body. Experiences with movement, art making, play and ritual aided in finding strength and joy. The work resulted in multiple benefits to clients in the life areas of aesthetics, recovery, grief and loss issues, self-expression, embodiment and empowerment.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Wes Chester

Student: Astrid Mackwitz
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Keywords: english: imagination, intermodal transfer, embodiment, expressive movement, dialogue, metaphor, emergence, resourcing, interplay, architecture, cancer, healing

HOW TO INTEGRATE AND EXPOSE THE WOUNDS OF A MAN THROUGH EXA (INTELLIGENT-FEELINGS MODEL: A METHODOLOGY TO EXHIBIT ONE’S WOUNDS)

A reality we face nowadays in the field of Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) stands out: the presence of men is notoriously minor compared to that of women. This reality can be noticed both in the number of people choosing this occupation or profession as in the number of people attending workshops, therapy and any EXA related activities. However, this situation is not exclusive to EXA, but extends to caretaking professions in general or activities that imply an exposition of emotions. How does this relate to wounds and the importance of exhibiting them? There is an apparently incoherent relation due to the nature of both concepts; however it proofs to be important and useful. The following Arts Based Research (ABR) went through different artistic experiences intermodally, hand in hand with "Massculine", the Dream-Eating Snake and the Man-Eating Flower, developing the Intelligent-Feelings Model. This model introduces some actions and clarifications to facilitate the use of EXA in the exploration, integration and exhibition of wounds. The model of intelligent-feelings proposes a way to approach the vulnerability and wounds of any human being; hence it is not exclusive to a specific gender. Finally, the author’s intention is that the use of this model, based on his personal experiences and work with individual patients and groups, may result in a greater access and permanence of men in the world of Expressive Arts.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Markus G. Scott Alexander

Student: Ramiro Paredes Cuba
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Keywords: wounds intelligent-feelings expose exhibit integration imaginary friends

In relation to traumatised communities, does the art-making process and accompaniment lead to transformation, and - if so- how?

This study considers two examples of art-making practices which I have facilitated in Northern Ireland. I consider if and how using the Expressive Arts and accompaniment made a difference in projects called, Petals of Hope (POH) and All Names Known (ANK). These projects are considered through a post-hoc lens although one is more concurrent practice. The Expressive Arts (EXA) intervention approach was central to my work in these creative experiences. Both cases involved communities who experienced extensive grief and loss. One example, was initiated by the public response of compassion and solidarity following the worst single atrocity of the Troubles and a further phase, fifteen years later. The second example considers private and personal loss of many babies who were buried in an unmarked grave in Belfast between 1945-1996. Both involved paper-making reengaging the senses and assisting people to find a path through very tragic circumstances.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Michelle LeBaron

Student: Carole Kane
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Keywords: conflict transformation peacebuilding northern ireland trauma art-process sensitising

Mobile Arts & Conflict Transformation: Crossing Geopolitical, Ethnic, Racial, and Social Borders.

In many places around the world, isolated individuals and communities have limited mobility, often resulting in little access to resources such as mental health services and creative outlets. This problem is exacerbated by conflict situations – there is often limited societal power, trauma and lack of social support. Artists from a variety of locations seek to reduce such symptoms by increasing access to creative processes by transporting art materials to marginalized communities. This study explores the experiences of three mobile artists in regions of conflict to gain a better understanding of mobile arts work – the meticulous planning, cultural exposure and potential benefits for participants. Special attention is paid to tensions regarding geopolitical, ethnic, racial or social borders, and the difficulty of crossing these barriers as a mobile artist. This study combines ethnography and participatory action research using phenomenological case studies. The data consists of transcribed interviews and personal experience of the researcher. Based on the interviews of each mobile artist, it can be said that making the arts available to communities in conflict situations can potentially have a wide range of benefits. Communities can begin to reestablish self-efficacy by learning new skills, build resilience by exploring issues creatively, and deepen relationships with other members of the community as well as challenge negative stigmas about people of differing cultures.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Michelle LeBaron

Student: Chelsea Wilkinson
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Navigating Poiesis in Virtual Landscapes

This thesis explores the potential of supporting adults through arts-based therapeutic relationships aimed towards developing digital literacy with digital collaboration. The guiding question for this research process was: What may emerge within the frame of the expressive arts therapies while navigating poiesis in virtual landscapes with marginalized adults? This qualitative exploration was inspired by a hybrid of phenomenological, arts-based, heuristic and bricolage methodologies. In the process of interweaving five bricolage portraits with reflective art-making, the author engaged in intermodal aesthetic responses to the process which resulted in a series of digital comics. It was found that an expressive arts approach towards engaging with digital media could offer access points to therapeutic engagements, transform computer anxiety, increase digital fluency and social connectivity, and set the stage for cyber-poiesis, collaboration and play.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Sabine Silberberg

Student: Nicole Parekh
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Keywords: expressive arts therapy, digital literacy, digital collaboration, virtual landscapes, cyber-poiesis, bricolage, digital comics, poetic nomad

Peace Education Program through the Expressive Arts: a multisystemic approach to social justice

"Peace Education Program through the expressive arts: a multisystemic approach to social justice" is a master thesis written by Slvia Ketelhohn who has worked for over 15 years in community development through the arts. She reflects on the possible effective change that is promoted by the use of expressive arts in peacebuilding processes in communities in extreme poverty in Costa Rica and Latinamerica and forsees their link to sustainability.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Jose Miguel Calderon

Student: Sylvia Ketelhohn
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Keywords: peace, education, sustainability, expressive arts

Plant a Seed

I have titled my internship project “Plant a Seed”. My aim was to explore how expressive arts therapy might be effective in helping urban youth strengthen their relationship with food, their bodies and the planet. I developed a program for a group of twelve children, from seven to ten years old, at the E. M. Downer Family YMCA in Richmond, California. In the course of thirteen classes, while trying to incorporate aspects of expressive arts therapy, I led the group through planting a garden, harvesting the vegetables, preparing food, creating edible art and eating our bounty. My intention was to create a safe, nurturing atmosphere in which the children felt comfortable enough to be expressive. I attempted to give them tools they could use to live a healthy life. The question I posed to myself was, “What could I do to create a better future for the children, to help them to participate in a world where humans can live sustainably and thrive on this planet?”

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ellen Levine

Student: Lauren Stocksdale
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Respect the Architect: Hip-Hop as an Intermodal Arts Modality in Expressive Arts Therapy

The scope of my thesis explores the intersections of Hip-Hop and Expressive Arts Therapy. My aim is to further our understanding and considerations as therapists to use the elements of Hip-Hop as an intermodal arts modality; these considerations support a practice that is client-centred and resource-oriented. Hip-Hop is a culturally and artistically relevant art form for a large portion of this generation. The uses of Hip-Hop as arts modality makes therapy more accessible to segments of this generation. The intention of this study is to bring attention to Hip-Hop culture and its potential use as an intermodal arts modality in an expressive arts therapy framework. This research project is a marriage of my personal passion and academic pursuit of introducing Hip-Hop through a salutogenic model that speaks to empowerment, validation, and creative expression. The theoretical framework of my thesis takes an ethnographic approach that juxtaposes Hip-Hop practices against empowerment theories to concretize Hip-Hop as a viable arts modality within principles and practices of expressive arts therapy. This arts-based research project is informed by a series of in-depth interviews with educators and practitioners of Hip-Hop.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ellen Levine

Student: Virginia Jahyu Tran
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Keywords: hip-hop, empowerment, arts-based, intermodal arts modality, validation

The Space Between Their Soul and the Streets: Intermodal expressive arts therapy helps at-risk youth at an emergency shelter

This thesis explores how intermodal expressive arts therapy helps youth at risk in an emergency, drop-in homeless shelter in San Diego, CA. Youth who seek services at the shelter experience issues such as abuse, trauma, neglect, mental illness, sexual trafficking and the cumulative effects associated with poverty and homelessness. The effects of applying the theories and methodologies of expressive arts therapy with this population are discussed. Results of the study suggest an effective situational analysis, along with a focused therapeutic relationship, can temporarily alleviate suffering experienced by the youth. This thesis conveys the story of invisible youth who found, in the expressive arts, possibility and hope.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Wes Chester

Student: Leetal Benzvi
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Keywords: intermodal transfer, at risk youth, adolescence, poverty, therapeutic relationship, abuse, ritual, situational analysis

The Use of Autobiography to Identify Resources within Carl Jung's Archetype of the Wounded Healerthrough Heuristic Research Methods

This heuristic inquiry is based upon my desire to explore the qualities that exist within Carl Jung's wounded healer archetype. By being wounded, therapists have gained resources throughout their lives that can be used to heal others. However, being wounded can lead many to believe that they cannot become an effective healer. Through a heuristic study of myself, I investigate the resources that I have gained throughout my experiences with bipolar disorder to demonstrate the uniqueness of the wounded healer. As I explore my own experiences and immerse myself in the experiences of others, I demonstrate that those with mental illness have a unique ability to understand the psyche of another. I also document my own clinical work as an expressive arts therapist. My experiences with my patients allow the reader to see how my mental illness has created a more sincere and effective healer.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Mary Putera

Student: Alison Fasolino
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Keywords: heuristic, phenomenology, bipolar disorder, mental illness, expressive arts therapy

The way of using Expressive Arts to help people finding out "Colors" in their life journey

How “Colors” Can Connect the Outside World to the Inner Heart? In this colorful world, we see colors through our pupils, even without knowing what “color” is. We catch images together with their colors in aspects of physical appearance and mental attributes, and we build up color sensation through our experiential learning. The process creates our own interpretations, preferences and emotions for “colors,” thus carrying out different expression and meaning. “Colors” in EXA (Expressive Arts) environment can reveal the reality. EXA with the contribution of color and “Colors” give out ways to express meaning. How can “colors” be carried out as a metaphor from a visual art piece to an invisible expression, that can help people to find a connection from the outer part of their world to the inner part of their body and give response from inside to outside? How can Expressive Arts help people to find out a colorful life?

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Ka Kit Lai

Student: Sze Pui Tang
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Unfailing Love: Healing Parenting through Expressive Arts Therapy

In my work as ECE teacher over 12 years, I found I was able to notice and understand the interests and purpose in children’s action easily. I was also really good at designing curriculum for shared play and emotional meaning through the children’s exploration and discovery. In my teaching experiences, I was always interested in supporting people’s inner desires and help them to find own potentials in positive ways. As I became a mom, I experienced challenge in my relationship with my children and myself. In this thesis I shared what I have discovered through exploring Expressive Arts Therapy. I created two types of different parent’s education group through Expressive Arts Therapy. Both groups had a chance to discover inner understanding of them by exploring with arts making. This experienced helped parents/caregivers to awake their sensitivity to break their thinking patterns from negative way. As thesis will show parenting is not about learning skills and techniques. It is about increasing space to love someone else.

2017: Master Thesis (English)

Advisor: Mary Putera

Student: Jinny Ko
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Keywords: parenting, children, healing, moms, arts, presents, holding, shaping, play, imagination, education