Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Rebecca Zarate


The problem under investigation is the lack of structured spiritual expressive arts therapy (ExAT) interventions, addressed by use of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) outside of the addictions community. The 12 steps assist recovery, and the expressive arts assist the 12 steps in that endeavor. A person is often the last to realize that they have a problem; they might lack insight into their mental illness. This is the first step of AA – to admit powerlessness, or in other words, develop some insight. In conjunction with an AA based program, expressive therapy groups help patients experience and crystalize the first four steps of AA (Potocek & Wilder, 1989). An ExAT method was implemented exploring AA principles in an adult male inpatient psychiatric setting from mixed racial and ethnic groups. The method provided a manner to connect with and make sense of the first few of the twelve steps through the expressive arts, as applied to mental health recovery. The method offered a potential way of working clinically in expressive arts therapies to introduce spirituality tangibly in the mental health recovery process.

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