Date of Award
MA - Master of Arts
Dr. Jena Leake, REAT
There are more than 5.3 million bereaved youth in the United States (Judi’s House/JAG Institute & The New York Life Foundation, 2022), a number that is only growing. Finding effective therapeutic interventions for bereaved youth is an ethical imperative. This capstone thesis considers the relationship between expressive therapies and bereavement work with adolescents, specifically the use of expressive arts therapy. Grief theories are explored in a literature review, along with a survey of existing empirical research conducted using expressive therapies with bereaved populations. Few empirical studies have focused on expressive arts therapy and bereavement work with adolescents, an observation which sparked the method developed as part of this capstone thesis. Offered to seven parentally bereaved adolescents attending virtual peer support groups, the method was a multimodal experiential consisting of two complementary “letter-writing” prompts: the first was to “write a letter” to the person in their life who died, and the second was to “write a letter” to themselves at the time of or before the death. Responses shared by group members influenced how the method developed, and informed the artistic reflections included in this capstone thesis. Experimenting with this method strengthened the writer’s belief that the relationship between expressive arts therapy and bereavement work with adolescents merits further exploration.
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Auld, Robby, "Development of a Method - All in the “Letters”: Exploring the Relationship Between Expressive Arts Therapy and the Grieving Process with Adolescents" (2022). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 573.
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