Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Carla Velasquez-Garcia



As of 2020, the number of forcibly displaced people in the world numbered 82.4 million. This radically diverse population, approximately one in every 95 people, only continues to burgeon as wars and conflicts send millions fleeing for their lives. Sadly, on top of the massive allostatic load endured by the forcibly displaced, many are then doubly harmed by global mental health professionals who lack insight into the culture and worldview of the fellow humans they serve. In an effort to support meaningful therapeutic work in the cross-cultural milieu, this paper presents a literature review inquiry into the purpose and process of centering the ontological frameworks of the forcibly displaced in global mental healthcare practice. The paper goes on to explore the theoretical foundations of Paulo Freire and Liberation Psychology as well as their influence on the expressive arts, community-based research model PhotoVoice. Several PhotoVoice studies are then reviewed within the frame of how they address the four categories of refugee stress as defined by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (n.d.). In the interest of encouraging respectful partnerships in communities where photography is ill-advised, the paper briefly presents a separate model of a respectful, arts-based mental health partnership not centered on photography. Based on the research presented, recommendations are made as to how global mental health practitioners can partner with forcibly displaced communities in ways that center the voice and worldview of the community in question.

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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