Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Denise Malis


This critical literature review investigates the potential application of Expressive Arts Therapy with adult survivors of natural disasters experiencing nondeath loss by examining the use of ExAT processes with bereaved adults. Explored are the concepts of complicated grief (CG) and nondeath loss, including some of the many tangible (e.g. house, employment) and intangible (e.g. sense of safety, community, time) presentations of nondeath loss in natural disasters, which account for the greatest percentage of loss experienced by survivors. The psychological impact of these losses is insufficiently addressed in current disaster recovery. Evidence is presented that underlines the clinically significant impact of nondeath loss; measures of grief symptoms from nondeath loss largely resemble those in bereavement, but the grief resulting from such loss is disenfranchised and thus less frequently treated. From the many uses of ExAT with bereaved adults, four methods in particular showed promise for application with those experiencing nondeath loss: expressive writing and poetry, musical improvisation, psychodrama and the ‘surplus reality’, and ritual. Additional therapeutic needs of survivors during the recovery process, such as social support, community resources, and the importance of hope and meaning-making are addressed. Finally, the impact of climate change and the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic and its associated nondeath losses are discussed.

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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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