Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Donna C. Owens


This paper considers how expressive arts therapy could incorporate performance art into a clinical setting. Using literature on both topics, commonalities and differences were assessed to determine whether performance art could be used as a healing method and which theories of expressive arts therapy were most aligned for that process. The literature review begins by defining expressive arts therapy and performance art, and then examining research where performance has been used as a healing technique, such as in drama therapy. Drawing on the author’s own experience with performance art and on the theory of poiesis, a silhouette of a design is put forth to show how performance art might be used in a therapeutic setting, which observes three actions of healing: performing/expressing, witnessing/being seen, responding/connecting. The significance of these aspects, as well as how a clinician might prepare clients to engage with them are explored. The research shows that both expressive arts therapy and performance art share similar historical roots in phenomenology, indigenous restorative practices, and rites and rituals. In addition, many attributes used in expressive arts therapy are needed for performance art to be utilized as therapy, such as embodiment, attunement, expression, and relationship.

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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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