Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


Globalization and advances in technology have resulted in a loss of cultural, community, and individual identity. Having a strong sense of self can be a protective factor in resisting peer pressure and involvement in negative behaviors, and a determining factor in the formation of one’s coping skills, and resiliency to life’s challenges. This was especially important for adolescents who are negotiating the developmental growth from childhood to adulthood, and older adults who are transitioning from the independence of adulthood to the dependence of old age.

This was a qualitative intergenerational study on the process of self-reflection on identity. Mirrors have a rich cultural heritage but there have been no studies on their use as a therapeutic tool for self-reflection. Participants in this two-part study included pre-adolescent and adolescent students, and residents of an assisted living facility. Participants decorated mirrors around the question, “Who Am I?” These mirrors were exhibited in a senior community center. A comparison was also made to existing data collected in a pilot study to compare and contrast responses of those viewing the self-reflections on identity.

Results indicated that mirrors aid in self reflection not only during the process of making the mirrors, but also for those viewing the exhibition. The data indicated three core themes that included (a) introspection and self concern, (b) connection and attachment to others, and (c) taking action to help others. These core themes encompassed the works of Erikson, Maslow, and Frankl. The results from this study postulated fluid, transitional phases in the process of self-reflection on identity which require further study.

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