Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Sarah Hamil


The method conducted in this thesis integrated museum education, exceptional children education, and expressive arts therapy practices. Objectives for implementing the method were to learn how to effectively address the unique needs within the exceptional children classroom, as well as to collaborate with the teacher to address those needs through expressive arts therapy and visual literacy approaches. In so doing, I wanted to examine the differences and similarities between museum education and expressive arts therapy and how they can work together to meet therapeutic goals. The method took place over four sessions; each session focused on a work of art and artmaking experience. Using the software program BoardMaker, I used the picture exchange communication system (PECS) to translate these questions into a picture form that was familiar to the participants. Participants of this study ranged from 15-21 years and 9th-12th grades. Diagnoses amongst the group included Autism, Down Syndrome, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and Moderate Intellectual Disability. The process affirmed the need to support more inclusive conversations centered on works of art with exceptional children. Benefits of integrating VTS into the therapeutic space included increased verbal communication, participation in artmaking, group cohesion, and positive self-concept. I hope that this method will continue the conversation and research on inclusive practices centered on works of art within the therapeutic, classroom, and museum space.

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