Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Michele Forinash

Second Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Third Advisor

Deborah Greh


This research investigated the efficacy of psycho-educational expressive arts therapy groups in equipping and empowering adults over the age of 55 for optimal functioning. Postulating that creative explorations of thought, action, and perception might enhance cognition, strengthen self-efficacy, and stimulate engagement, the researcher targeted 24 aptitudes associated with creativity and cognitive health. These are fluency, flexibility, originality, elaboration, abstracting, openness, emotional awareness, synthesis, proprioception, visualization, contextualizing, curiosity, investigating, confidence, extending, optimism, fantasy, humor, collaboration, decentrism, perception, critical thinking, metaphoric understanding, and metacognition. Participants (N=119) at five locations in the greater New York area were solicited from the public through senior center newsletters. Data was culled from those with perfect or near-perfect attendance (N=42) and a control group from the same population (N=40). The exercises combined movement/dance, visualization, improvisation, music-making, psychodrama, storytelling, breathing techniques, critical thinking, sensory enhancement, collaborative problemsolving, positive psychology, and creative immersion within an atmosphere of socialization and support. Structured as the “Five A’s of Creating Wellness,” the intervention targeted each aptitude (e.g., flexibility) and its associated attitude (“what if”), through application (consider alternatives) of an activity (imagining and repurposing), for a resultant outcome action (mental dexterity). Assessments were the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, the General Self-Efficacy Scale, the Flourishing Scale, and the Life Engagement Indicator Scale. Results indicated a significant difference in pre and post scores for creativity measures (p

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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