Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


This paper explores how adolescents engage with two- and three-dimensional art materials during the creative process, in addition to the role of the therapist, the artmaking and other contributing factors that influence their experience. Using a humanistic, client-centered approach, these factors were explored with a focus on client strengths, positive regard, and client-led discussion. The literature provided insight around how people react to materials and how diverse materials can provide diverse art experiences, as well as how artmaking is used with vulnerable populations. The literature informed the research in how it analyzed, interpreted, and discussed the art and artmaking process. It highlighted the significance of therapist presence in and out of therapy sessions, and how that has a complex effect on client experience. The teenagers lived at a residential treatment center in a suburban Massachusetts town, servicing youths with various mental health needs, diagnoses, and trauma history. Clients worked with art materials and engaged in dialogue during and following artmaking. Joint artmaking with the therapist and client was involved, as well as reflective artmaking after sessions. Insight was gained on the importance of nonverbal processes, the therapeutic presence, and how to dialogue about artmaking. Each aspect of the process can influence how clients respond to and benefit from the experience. It is important that therapists take care in considering these factors and the impact they have when engaging clients in expressive therapies.

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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