Sunhee K. Kim

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Dr. Michele Forinash

Second Advisor

Dr. Robyn Flam Cruz

Third Advisor

Jung H. Kim


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of art therapy on healthy aging in older adults in terms of its promotion of well-being and a better quality of life. Few research studies have been conducted on the Korean American older adult population to investigate the effectiveness of art therapy. The present study was undertaken to quantitatively assess the effect of art therapy on this population using three standardized psychological instruments to measure the dependent variables of affect, anxiety, and selfesteem. An effort was made to understand the physiology of the brain as it relates to art therapy for promoting healthy aging in Korean American older adults. This study showed positive results that support the hypothesis that the art therapy intervention with 50 Korean American older adults promoted healthy aging by reducing negative emotions, improving self-esteem, and decreasing anxiety. Large effect sizes indicated an 84.6% positive change in affect (r = .92) and a 70.6% positive change in state of anxiety (r = .84) for participants in the art therapy intervention group over the control group. Moderate effect sizes of the art therapy intervention indicated positive changes in selfesteem and trait anxiety (r = .75 and r = .74, respectively). Art-making as part of an art therapy intervention promotes continuous dopaminergic stimulation in the brain of the art-maker, who can perceive more emotional experiences during creation. Therefore, art therapy sessions need to be designed for and applied to the older population, and they should target the sharpening of cognitive skills to prevent brain aging, the stimulation of iii senses to promote creativity, the cultivation of positive attitudes to improve self-esteem, and the elimination of negative emotions to promote emotional well-being. These factors encompass the promotion of better health for older individuals. Keywords: healthy aging, art therapy, older adults, creativity, brain

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.


English, Korean

Number of Pages





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