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AHS Research Overview 2019

A Mirror Held Up: Can Feedback to a Client in an Art Form Enhance the Therapeutic Relationship?

The harvesting portion of an expressive arts session can be enriched by adding another part, namely aesthetic feedback, and an aesthetic feedback as a form of documentation can be used as a way of knowing. This thesis seeks to incorporate a new method of documentation in which the therapist performs an aesthetic feedback in response to the harvest phase of a session.

This is a research guided by aesthetic features such as the emotional reactions that could emerge in the process and by how the involved participants may be touched by the exchange of an aesthetic feedback during a therapy session. The author attempts a better understanding of this study by evaluating and examining at first hand three case studies in which the result of the implementation of the aesthetic feedback was used as a documentation resource.
The research seeks to answer the question: Can feedback to a client in an art form enhance the therapeutic relationship? As a qualitative and arts-based research, the focus was to enlarge the human understanding through an art making process or by the product that may come up from the process and gain multiple perspectives. In this sense, the author transformed data into art, observed and learned from the process, used the images as stimuli eliciting a response and then collected all the responses.

It is hoped this research will inform therapists and expressive arts practitioners about the benefits of including an aesthetic feedback as a documentation resource and illustrate how art can be used as data and as a form of documentation. 

2019: Master Thesis (English)
magna cum laude

Advisor: Ellen Levine

Student: Daniela Garcia Prieto
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Keywords: aesthetic feedback, aesthetic response, aesthetic responsibility, aesthetic relationship, documentation, expressive arts therapy, therapy

A Resource-Oriented Intervention: Working with Children with Disabilities and Their Parents in Expressive Arts Therapy

The reader is taken into the world of the work and play of an Expressive Arts Therapist, to explore resource-oriented intervention within Expressive Arts Therapy. Starting with my autobiography, I share why I am passionate about working with my clients and how I arrived at this topic, through disclosing my own identity and relationship with my family, on my journey of becoming a phenomenological Expressive Arts Psychotherapist. A mixed method of using case studies and art-based research is used to analyze four target groups, including families of children with disabilities, a group of children with special needs, parents of people with disabilities, and a child with autism and intellectual impairment. Research results suggest that having a supportive therapeutic relationship, and a safe architecture of the therapy session, are crucial when facilitating clients to discover their own inner resources, which motivates them to make changes in life. Along the journey, I am led to develop a new tea-making metaphor for resource-oriented Expressive Arts Therapy. 

2019: Master Thesis (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Markus Scott Alexander

Student: Venus Wing Lui Yiu
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Keywords: autism, expressive arts therapy, family, inner resources, mixed methodology, play, parent and child relationship, people with disability, resource-oriented, richo’s five a’s, safety, therapeutic relationship

DUYAN Bridging Healing and Learning through the Expressive Arts: Transforming Classrooms in Disaster Contexts into Healing Spaces

This dissertation explores how the expressive arts can bridge healing and learning to transform classrooms into healing spaces in disaster-affected contexts. More specifically, it examines how the training of teachers to integrate the expressive arts into their classrooms helps student survivors in their recovery, and serves as a cradle (duyan in Filipino) to educators during their own process of healing. With the evaluative case study, autoethnography and A/R/Tography as methodologies, this paper is substantiated by eight core stories about expressive arts psychosocial training workshops conducted for teachers around the world. Three words that surfaced from images which emerged from the narratives, are core to the study: crumpled, cradled and (being) capable. Crumpling is presented as it relates to trauma, cradling as it relates to attachment and attunement, and being capable as it relates to self-agency. The central discussion on cradling offers the beginnings of a theory of the expressive arts as a point of convergence for education and mental health. This is reinforced by data from the field, research from eastern healing practices, neuroscience, and neuroaesthetics through an interlacing of artistic and scientific perspectives. The paper concludes with the author’s detailed description of the arts-based research process and its consequent findings.

2019: Ph.D. Dissertation (English)
magna cum laude

Advisor: Sally Atkins

Student: Maria Regina Abella Alfonso
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Keywords: bridging healing and learning though the expressive arts, expressive arts a cradle, the expressive arts in disaster context schools

Enacting Perception

The use of movement in Expressive Arts practices can be especially effective when the practice facilitates the widest possible range of movement options.  Facilitation techniques that moderate the contradictions that emerge in movement improvisation can enable a wider range of play by increasing capacity for movement invention.  To understand capacity, we must understand the barriers that interfere with achieving capacity.  Therefore, this research first explores the question: What are the factors that mediate facility in movement improvisation in Expressive Arts practices?    This research explores these mediating issues with interest in identifying moderating options. The second question tackled in this research is: How might a methodology focused on attending to specific aspects of an art work's expression moderate movement facility to expand a participant’s range of play? The proposed methodology promotes enactive attunement, creating a bridge between what is perceived and how that perception might be embodied.  A partially field-tested resource with potential to guide users to aspect-specific attention in aesthetic responding is offered as a way to dissolve barriers and enhance options in movement-based inquiry. 

2019: Ph.D. Dissertation (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Judith Greer Essex

Student: Constance Schrader
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Keywords: movement-based inquiry, dance, expression, improvisation, art, aspect, facilitation

Evocation • Exploration • Exaltation: How can the expressive arts evoke the spirit of inner child from exploration to exaltation?

How can the Expressive Arts evoke one’s spirit of the ‘inner child’, from the exploration of art-making to the experience of ‘exaltation’? How might this process help us to discover and restore our inner resources? Does every one of us have an ‘artistic child’, an-inborn sense of playing in the arts? This topic was inspired by an Expressive Arts Therapy Masters practicum project in Hong Kong, called “Smart Kids and Elderly Community Arts Project”. Being with the kids, I witnessed their powerful innate resources of creativity, courage, curiosity, sense of wonder, playfulness and joyfulness and how their influence on the elderly to become energetic and alive. When an elderly man with dementia engages with play in something he loves, his serious face changes to a naughty one, and he is able to laugh like a kid. This thesis explores my fascination with what is behind this phenomenon.

2019: Master Thesis (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Ka Kit Lai

Student: Wai Yee Wong
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Keywords: expressive arts, inner child, inner resources

How does Expressive Arts Therapy enhance the understanding of young adult in Hong Kong’s shifting IDENTITY

Shaun McNiff (1998) told his student to discover “the thesis you are living and cannot see”. Hong Kong is my home and my root, where I born in, I grew up in, I learnt in, and I committed in. This lovely place nurtures me, teaches me what is justice, and demonstrates me what is adherence. This is my IDENTITY as a Hongkonger. I keen on explore this attitude and belief with the next generation, to whom I am unswervingly enthusiastic to work with. This thesis relates to apply Expressive Arts Therapy to the young adults in Hong Kong, exploring the idea of identity. And it ends with foreseeing the contribution of Expressive Arts Therapy to the community, in order to generate a sense of shift.

2019: Master Thesis (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Ka Kit Lai

Student: Wik Chi Nicholas Wong
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Keywords: decentering, play range, tansitional space, identity, beliefs, hong kong

Material Oriented Expressive Arts Therapy- An exploration of Using Material to bridge between Arts and Autism Adults in Hong Kong

This study endeavored to investigate how material could help “autism adults” in Hong Kong to bridge the existing world through expressive arts therapy. The researcher had conducted a 1 year of 46 sessions expressive arts research group from sheltered workshop of the local Hong Kong non-profit making organization, NLPRA. The 1 year research group was designed into four phases from individual, group, friendship, family and gratitude and vocational respectively. Narrative and phenomenological approach was the main methodology for conducting six case studies on their journey of art transformation. The study concluded that material helped the autism adult to open up their sensory organs and they would “free” from their rigidity as they could expand their play range. Material also helped clients to have deeper exploration of imagination from sensitization and the material itself could help clients to engage and transform imagination into realism. The researcher used the “bridge” to describe material as the channel to come across different art modalities and senses under polyaesthetics theory and modalities of imagination.

2019: Master Thesis (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Kai Kit Lai

Student: Chi Hung Clifford Lee
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Keywords: material, modalities of imagination, polyaesthetics theory

Playing Freely with(in) Restrictions: Qualitative Research for the Reciprocal Therapeutic Triad Among Arts, Therapist’s & Client’s Dynamic Play Ranges

Without restriction, there is no creativity. Play, as the operator of imagination, also needs an optimal range so that one can play freely with(in) daily restrictions. This thesis aims to study the criteria contributing to human dynamic state of play range, Dynamic Play Range (DPR) in EXA therapeutic setting. On interpersonal level, the reciprocal interactions between clients’ and therapists’ respective DPRs would be studied using the framework of Reciprocal Therapeutic Triad (RTT), with arts as a play-ground, the third space containing both parties’ shared imaginal experience. Case study about therapeutic experiences with five individual clients would be carried out. A Play Range Inventory (PRI) is devised for clients and therapists to draw as an art-based evaluation. Personal reflections by the therapist, also the participatory researcher, would be analyzed together with the back-and-forth responses (aesthetically and verbally) between clients and therapists to ensure intersubjective validity. The study reveals the importance of optimal restrictions in therapeutic setting, especially the therapist’s and client’s willingness of self-restrictions that lead to a “harvestable” expansion of play range bridging with daily life, which also opens further research possibilities regarding the role shift and hierarchy of power among clients and therapists, as well as the implementation of PRI within the architecture of therapeutic session.

2019: Master Thesis (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Ka Kit Lai

Student: Wai Ho, Chris Chow
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Keywords: play-range, improvisation/de-center, therapeutic presence, restrictions, imprisonment, reciprocity, space of third

The Heroine's Journey: using expressive arts to support empowerment for women in recovery

This thesis explores how expressive art therapy (hereafter EXA) can increase empowerment and be helpful to women in recovery. I am looking at the concept ‘rite of passage’ described by Stephen Levine as “a time where familiar structures have been given up and a time of confusion moving towards a new life”. The research fieldwork of the thesis is a ten-week’s course/study done at the Casa Treatment Center in Los Angeles, which is a drug and substance abuse treatment center for women. The thesis explores 1) how the arts based self-research of the therapist support a better client therapist connection, 2) if looking at an expressive arts rite of passage support women’s journey towards empowerment and 3)   How the expressive arts methods of harvesting and dialogue with the image support the artists sense of empowerment.

2019: Master Thesis (English)
cum laude

Advisor: Wes Chester

Student: Caecilie Carlsen
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Keywords: women’s empowerment, recovery, expressive arts therapy