Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Tim Reagan


In the domain of therapeutic approaches, rich literature exists for trauma-informed expressive therapies and improvisational expressive therapies. However, there is very little research combining the two perspectives, especially in the case of children. Research in the field of improvisation states it can be beneficial in helping individuals broaden their capacity to learn, play and engage with others, but the field of trauma informed expressive therapies does not take from this body of knowledge. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the effects of improvisational expressive arts therapy with children. The approach was qualitative, multimodal and trauma-informed, using various expressive arts modalities. The inquiry was phenomenological in nature. Five sessions of “improvisation group” were observed, documented and analyzed with children aged 10-12 at a therapeutic afterschool program. Several themes like resistance, creative avoidance, importance of rapport building and holding space, need to balance creative risk taking with clear boundary setting and consideration of preferred art modalities/materials emerged. This research adds to existing literature on trauma-informed expressive arts therapy, while opening up possibilities to also have that work be non-directive in nature. It also encourages the use of improvisation as a research method and a skill to be used by clinicians who work with similar populations.

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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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