Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Donna C. Owens


Art therapy has grown more visible in tandem with the modernization of psychology, society, and the push for social justice amongst communities of intersection experiencing oppression. The practice as a whole is a modern interpretation of talk therapy that has evolved and capitalized the importance of creativity and imagery-making as means to connect a person to their emotions, others, and the world as a whole. In this growing time and era of technology, the increase of aesthetic, visual media is necessary in providing mass information and receiving critical socioemotional input from individuals and communities about social issues. One of the biggest demands is biopsychosocial advocacy for all marginalized communities of color that are experiencing overt, violent discrimination following the Trump era presidency and existence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health work and development in this vulnerable time requires cultural humility, expansion, and accountability regarding White supremacy and its inevitable effect on all aspects of human existence. The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) has adopted new ethics and principles to maneuver the existing social injustice. From research of historical context, BIPOC expressive therapists’ point of view, and personal experience in the field, AATA and modern art therapy feel complacent in providing performative allyship regarding multicultural development, perspective, and evolution. This thesis argues that it would be within AATA’s best interest to explore methods like critical race theory, created by scholars and communities of color that actively seek sustainable, transparent change for the future.

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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