Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Michele Forinash

Second Advisor

Shaun McNiff

Third Advisor

Penelope Orr


This art-based, phenomenological inquiry investigated how four art therapists and five art therapy clients have used digital media. Polarities in how computer-mediated materials are experienced and the larger impacts of technology on clients, therapists, and the therapeutic encounter were exposed. New media have brought constant contradiction in characterization just as all previous technologies have reflected responses from unease to adaptation. Some key questions in the research are how digitized materials are being used in art therapy and by whom and when? Related questions are what effects can these materials have for clients and what learning, interests, and media adaptations have art therapists integrated to use the materials skillfully? The reflexive use of digital video recording and editing activities formed deeper levels of sustained inquiry for the researcher to create a two part written and video research investigation that distilled the following major themes and subthemes: 1) omnipresence of technology with the subtheme digital divides; 2) technology as a bridge between therapy and the everyday lives of clients; 3) openness to new generations and evolutions; 4) photography and video as access to memory and storytelling with related subthemes of veracity of the image and capture and documentation; 5) the ‘hybridness’ of the digital art therapist; 6) fluid parameters in digital media with a subtheme of fluid parameters in ethical boundaries; and 7) the inherent and sensory qualities of digital media to include: immediacy and playback, emotional distancing and pause, movability, mobility, re-presentation, ordering and winnowing, versatility, roadblocks, curious and playful, and predictable to unpredictable. Conclusions from this research include digital culture considerations for how growing numbers of clients and therapists are using digital media readily; how digital media can be characterized and dismissed through intuitive understanding of benefits and drawbacks and without sustained knowledge, experiential or creative application, or evaluation; and why interested, hybrid therapists are growing the applications of digital media use technically, creatively, and ethically. This researcher noted profound implications for future digital media use in therapy and how the conscious use, balancing with, and understanding of technology are not casual choices or behaviors but dynamic cultural shifts within growing media sphere contexts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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