Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Lee Ann Thill, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC


The art medium influences emotional expression and is a tool for change within the therapeutic art process. Research reveals physiological changes in participants’ heart rate and brain activity when working with art materials in response to the art medium’s resistive and fluid qualities. Art therapists can assess a person’s emotional presentation and decide which art media are psychologically appropriate for a person by observing changes in mood, emotions, and non-verbal language. A therapeutic game was played over three sessions with an art therapy group of adolescents, ages 11-14 years old, within a therapeutic middle school setting. Changes in the group’s emotional response while using fine tip markers, oil pastels, and tempera paint were explored. Variables affecting individual group members and emotions that transferred to the collective mood of the art therapy group included: the art medium, structure of art materials and creative activity, complexity of the task, and therapeutic environment. It was found that the art medium is a component of a therapeutic art-making experience and cannot be isolated. The art therapist must intentionally select the art medium or creative activity when working within an art therapy group to ensure an effective therapeutic experience.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
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