Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Sarah Hamil, PhD


Modern day living, for all its benefits, is synonymous with record levels of stress. The mental health clinician’s role is to assist clients in accessing the skills and tools necessary to reduce and alleviate the symptoms of stress-induced anxiety. Mindfulness is emerging as a potent and effective tool to restore one’s state of well-being. Likewise, engaging in art therapy has been shown to reduce stress and foster resilience. Grounded in humanistic and existential theories, this literature review aimed to assess the impact and effectiveness of two intermodal holistic therapies, specifically mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) and focusing-oriented art therapy (FOAT). A critical review of the literature on mindfulness, focusing and art therapy revealed a positive correlation supporting increased measures of well-being and self-efficacy in various populations. Adults who received mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) and partook in therapeutic art making have been found to benefit by increased confidence, self-compassion and resilience. Children and adolescents, who are especially receptive to expressive therapies, were found to be excellent candidates for MBAT due to the nature of its non-verbal and sensory-based methods. Benefits for youth included improved levels of self-confidence, increases in positive mood, improved relationships and decreases in anxiety and stress. While further research is necessary to determine the short and long-term impacts of arts-based mindfulness interventions, there is little doubt that holistic mental healthcare is here to stay.

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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