Date of Award

Spring 4-14-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Krystal Demaine

Abstract

Approaches in treatment of chemical dependency have focused primarily on psychoeducation in group therapy, with limited research involving expressive therapies. Literature has shown benefit in the use of expressive arts for those in mental health treatment, with a limited amount of research on expressive arts in the treatment of substance abuse disorders (SUDs), though it is uncommon for individuals in chemical dependency treatment to receive therapy in any expressive modality. This may be due to several factors, such as resources for supplies or limitations in funding, however, an outlet of expression could benefit this population and contribute to successful recovery and sobriety. Further research is needed to determine effective methods of expressive arts with SUD populations.

Following the work of Pennebaker and Seagal (1999), this thesis integrates time for journaling, with the option of using art materials, for 15-minute intervals at the beginning and end of programming, throughout one week of SUD treatment. Allowing SUD clients the opportunity to practice journaling or art journaling, this study strives to identify whether this population is responsive to the activity and lay the groundwork for future studies regarding the benefits of journaling on the mental, physical, and emotional health in the treatment of substance use disorders. The participants’ engagement and enthusiastic responses throughout the study indicated this addition to the treatment programming may be beneficial long-term, calling for further research to determine how writing and art journaling can impact the course of treatment.

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