Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Denise Malis


This paper explores ways integrated expressive arts therapies (EAT) used with individuals with dementia in hospice can help facilitate living well in the face of dying. While research is limited regarding use of EAT with this population specifically, much significant research has been conducted to support the effectiveness of the employment of various creative arts modalities with individuals with dementia and also on hospice. Building on this research, the author developed and implemented an integrated EAT method with members of this population living in long-term care facilities in Greater Boston in the context of the pandemic of 2020-21. This paper will discuss the literature that informed the method, what took place during the implementation of the method with two patients, and what was learned from observing and experiencing play with those experiencing a myriad of losses. Description of hospice visits centered in co-creating in dynamic therapeutic relationships, illuminates particular ways EAT helped two individuals experiencing cognitive decline and facing death access non-verbal and spontaneous creativity and the wisdom of the body in the here and now. It conveys how EAT was used to engage senses and facilitate a sense of connection through exploration and expression of a range of emotions. The paper argues that EAT’s connection to play through the use of the imagination makes it particularly well suited to this population with rich potential for enhancing quality of life when facing death. Finally, the paper suggests avenues for future research and application of this method beyond the pandemic.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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