Date of Award
MA - Master of Arts
Adolescent students who migrated during the COVID-19 pandemic are especially vulnerable to negative mental health outcomes. Research supports that school-based services provide protective resources to newcomer students that may be inaccessible outside of public-school settings. Expressive art therapies are some of the most successful interventions used with newcomer students, and the context of the pandemic offers a new opportunity to study the benefits of arts-based methods within their classrooms. For adolescents navigating cultural adjustment in the midst of a pandemic, trauma-informed research signals that community-building is a key strategy for protecting students from negative mental health symptoms. Art and craft theory gives intention to the materials and directives that art therapists can utilize in practice. With this research in mind, an art and writing method was conducted over three weeks in January 2022 at a public high school. Participants of the study included students ages 14-19, who migrated within the 2021-2022 school year. Languages spoken within the group included Spanish, Urdu, and Portuguese. This method was successful in revealing the relationship-building benefits of art and written reflection within this setting. Informed material choices, conducted by the art therapy intern, proved to be a beneficial aspect of its design. This method indicates the success of expressive art therapies with newcomers students, but leaves more to be researched within the fields of expressive therapies and education. Although public schools provide many important services for newcomers students, art therapy can be recognized as a valuable tool for facilitating cultural adjustment.
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Johnson, Kate, "Building Community: A School-based Art Reflection Method for Newcomer Students During COVID-19" (2022). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 558.
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