Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


Mental health professionals who work with people over 65 have been shown to exhibit subtle and overt ageist attitudes. Many of these misconceptions were based on societal perceptions and ageism stereotypes arising from contemporary research performed on a non-representative portion of people over 65. Nursing home residents representing only 4.2% of the older adult population have been studied and the results of those studies have been generalized to represent all older adults. Few studies have given voice to the 95.8% of well older adults living independently. It was held if older adults were listened to, guiding information could be gained which could help professionals working with older adults to become more aware of the trappings of ageism and age stereotypes. A qualitative study was employed to explore the lived experience of aging through the analysis and coding of interviews with ten independent people over 65 years old living in diverse locations around the world. Though some of the findings supported old age stereotypes, it was found that the participants held an “inner age” that was 30-40 years younger than their physical age, that the participants did not see themselves as “old,” that “old” meant physical disability or poor attitude, and that “connectedness” was important in life fulfillment. The findings were used to develop a set of guidelines for critiquing expressive therapies literature about working with older adults. Applications of the guidelines to a selection of expressive therapies literature was performed and presented.



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Art Therapy Commons




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