Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Chapin Stephenson


My thesis concerns observations made while incorporating mindfulness-oriented art therapy experientials into hour-long, didactic DBT skills-training groups at a residential partial program serving dually-diagnosed adults. For the thesis, I adapted two exercises from Clark’s DBT-Informed Art Therapy. My research method was arts-based grounded theory, referencing Corbin’s grounded theory and Wadeson and Allen’s thinking on the use of art for professional processing. My data took the form of a journal, word clouds, poems, and small artworks I iteratively created to deepen my learnings. My experientials highlighted areas of confusion regarding mindfulness that I attempted to address. Through the process, I became profoundly aware of art-making’s potential to evoke shame in patients. This turned my attention to relational trauma and its enduring impact on patients with addiction disorders. I saw that the work that I was doing in groups was providing a safe, contained space for patients to gently re-experience shame. The art moments, including their ability to evoke shame, were an opportunity for corrective emotional experiences. Because of their acuity, some patients benefitted from the structure of DBT and its focus on managing dysfunctional behaviors. Patients who were better stabilized and regulated had the added potential to benefit from approaches that considered maladaptive schemas. I concluded that both DBT and aspects of schema therapy could be incorporated into the setting, with benefits to many patients, as long as the overarching framework of attachment trauma was kept in the practitioner’s mind.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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