Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Shaun McNiff

Second Advisor

Rebecca Zarate

Third Advisor

Barbara Fish


This art-based dissertation explored professionals' reactivity toward problematic-client interactions across the art therapy, expressive arts therapy, hairstyling, and tattooing disciplines. The concept was explored with a participant from each discipline in a four-phase sculpting process and through semi-structured interviews, response sculptures, and video footage and aggregates. Research questions examined (1) what happens to the participants' professional understanding of problematic clients and (2) self-understanding through engaging in a sculpting process focused on problematic clients, (3) similarities in participants' experiences across disciplines, and (4) what happens when the researcher creates and presents response art to the research participants. The two main outcomes were needs for transformation and supervision. The overarching transformation outcome encompassed the study's findings, which were the participants' (a) embodiment of sculptures to represent emotions and (b) negativity and discomfort in witnessing. Additionally, the participants identified the need for life adjustments, including (c) overcoming feelings of incompetence by (d) regaining control and empathy, as well as (e) improving self-regulation and (f) managing wellness.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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