Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Donna C Owens


This thesis presents a new exploration into the possibility of connecting the powers of phototherapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), as well as inquiring into the idea that this integration could make a positive change in the gaps that exist in the mental health care system. This inquiry is important because both are powerful, research-supported methods that help populations that have been historically overlooked in the mental health field. However, there are many populations and diagnoses that are currently still either being glazed over or not receiving the specialized, competent, and compassionate care that is required for effective treatment. I reviewed the literature on both to see if there were any connections, and researched ways this connection could potentially be applied to gaps in the field. I found there are many ways that the two therapies overlap and have connecting ideas specifically observing that the concepts of interpersonal effectiveness skills, wise mind, distress tolerance, and radical acceptance emerged within phototherapy research. The areas of study I explored to apply this overlap within the mental health field were with LGBTQ+ identities and relationships, racism, gender bias, and misunderstood diagnoses, such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit disorder. With the life-saving power of DBT skills and phototherapy’s ability to help marginalized communities share their voice and define their own narrative, recommendations are made for future DBT phototherapy groups. Combined, these two therapies could provide an essential kickstart to help understand, illuminate, and repair the current gaps in the field.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




The author owns the copyright to this work.