Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


This study explores the essential qualities of the multiple perspectives informing the practice of art therapy in the museum context. Museum-based art therapy is defined as art therapy provided in partnership with museums as part of strategic efforts to engage in community practice. The study focuses on obtaining in-depth information through audio-recorded interviews with seven expert practitioners with direct knowledge and experience in the therapeutic use of art in museums that welcome community engagement. The interview contents were interpreted by identifying salient passages and important points emphasized in participant responses as an exploration into new perspectives regarding the use of art museums as a therapeutic space. Further interpretation included the use of art-based inquiry and response art in the form of poetic compositions to aesthetically synthesize and convey participant perspectives. Key findings in the study demonstrated that the museum setting provides essential supports for art therapy in the community context and specific organizational qualities were identified for implementation and further study. Empathetic imagination defined as the ability to make connections with artistic expressions for interpersonal and intrapersonal insight emerged as an essential quality of museum-based art therapy that supported healing and therapeutic change. Implications of the study are presented as three interrelated areas that emerged as important considerations for future research and partnerships between art therapists and museums. These topics include: poetic verse as art-based inquiry; empathetic imagination in community art therapy; and an organizational structure for museum-based art therapy.



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