Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Kelvin Ramirez


The Arts and Peer Support Group (APSG) is a free, open-studio style expressive arts therapy group for adults living with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) guided by clinicians and informed by a recovery orientation to mental health care for SMI. This capstone thesis used an arts-based participatory action research paradigm to explore the value of an expressive arts therapy group for adults living with SMI. The researcher of this capstone thesis hypothesized that an expressive arts therapy framework could be combined with innovative approaches to the recovery orientation, such as mutual recovery, which has encouraged systemic change in society’s perception of SMI in addition to the traditional focus on supportive care for the individual living with SMI. The theoretical basis of expressive arts therapy, that the creative process can foster personal and community growth (International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, 2017), is well aligned with the values of the recovery orientation, which supports an individual’s self-directed path to recovery through social support and collaborative illness management (Leonhardt et al., 2017). Arts and Peer Support Group members and clinicians participated in a series of art-making sessions dedicated to exploring the group dynamics of the APSG, as well as assessing the possible benefits and deficits of the group. The researcher of this capstone thesis engaged in a reflective parallel artistic process and concluded that the arts were uniquely positioned to help create a community of individuals who found common ground through artistic expression and support for mental health advocacy.

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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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