Community Directed Exploration of Expressive Therapy Applications to Combat Barriers to Mental Health for First Responders
Date of Award
MA - Master of Arts
Donna C. Owens
First responders are critically under supported in their pursuits of mental health and face a wide gambit of barriers to care. Using an asynchronous online forum, I invited first responders to engage in a community creative process, share their experiences of barriers to care and explore possible solutions to combat these barriers. From my review of the literature in preparation for this community project I surmised that to find effective methods of interventions and support for this population, the development of these should begin with the first responder community itself. The culture that surrounds this community often is avoidant of speaking openly about seeking care as there are consequences with job security and rapport with their peer group. Bringing expressive therapy into this creates the potential of finding communication and outlets through nonverbal and personal creative pursuits. This explored within the online forum brought forth a sense from the participants of potential progress, while also still feeling the weight of the pandemic and sociopolitical stress attached to work that is something larger than a job but for many is an identity. It was found that many first responders practice rituals of superstition that provide a sense of control over an otherwise chaotic workplace experience. Development thereof would be an effective starting point to create interventions or begin to breach the barrier to care via an arts-based support structure.
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Rossman, Anne, "Community Directed Exploration of Expressive Therapy Applications to Combat Barriers to Mental Health for First Responders" (2022). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 504.
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