Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Sarah Hamil


By age 11, children are expected to have developed healthy, appropriate, and controlled emotional and social literacy. They should have learned basic social norms, the ability to regulate their emotions, and a strong sense of empathy. These lessons in emotional intelligence prepare children for the roles they will play in adolescence and adulthood. Unfortunately, due to the shift in social interactions from in-person to virtual, children’s emotional intelligence might be at a risk of decline. Fortunately, studies support that the expressive arts therapies can improve interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and behaviors. This thesis aims to develop and implement a method to facilitate emotional intelligence in school-age children. Specifically, it showcases the potential of the expressive arts therapies used in the method. To test the hypothesis that expressive arts therapy can facilitate emotional intelligence in school-age children, a 15-week online expressive arts therapy experiential was implemented to eight children from an outpatient mental health clinic. In the virtual setting, children participated in fifteen activities based on four expressive arts therapy modalities. Each child’s ability to perceive, understand, and regulate emotions in the self and in the other was assessed using the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) before and after the 15-week long experiential. The results showed what was hypothesized: emotional intelligence in school-age children. These results suggest new ways to improve the facilitation of emotional intelligence in children. On this basis, the use of the expressive arts therapies should be considered when furthering and promoting emotional intelligence.

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