Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Ara Parker


This thesis explores the relational dimensions of perfectionism, expressive arts therapy (ExAT), and the more-than-human natural world as these components influence the development and maintenance of the “sense of self.” This term refers to a perception of the “self” as a set of traits and beliefs that shape an individual’s perceived purpose in the world, often heavily influenced by external societal pressures at a young age. “I’m not good enough” often rings in the ears of educators, parents, coaches, expressive arts therapists, and other mental health workers as the fear of vulnerability, judgment, and failure inhibits creative impulse and intuitive identity. The query began with how expressive arts therapy can aid in managing perfectionism and whether using nature as a co-therapist could facilitate and deepen interpersonal connections. This paper reviews literature on nature-based therapies and examines the author’s own experience working with nature as a third entity in the therapeutic relationship through an autoethnographic arts-based research approach. Findings advocate that nature informed ExAT can invite the innermost authentic self into a therapeutic conversation, give it space for healing, and aid in combating perfectionistic tendencies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




The author owns the copyright to this work.