Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


This literature review examines posttraumatic growth (PTG), a psychological construct based on the phenomenon of transformative, positive changes experienced by an individual or a community after struggling with trauma(s) and adverse life events. The intention of this capstone thesis is to explore processes in art therapy (AT) that enable PTG and broaden trauma recovery practices by focusing on well-being rather than pathology. This review examines quantitative, qualitative, and arts-based research that explored PTG directly and indirectly using AT, which revealed large gaps in PTG and AT research. Creativity, positive art therapy, social and community support, mindfulness, spirituality, and channeling confidence and resilience to persevere through metaphorical identification with superheroes and heroines were themes in the literature that enabled PTG. I discovered these same themes were related to the AT process leading to PTG and corresponded to similar aspects in the five outcomes of the theoretical model of PTG and in the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). Based on this literature review, AT interventions paralleled these themes, which included mindfulness, positive art therapy, community open studios, visual journaling, and narrative exposure therapy (NET), superhero play therapies and art making for achieving creative self-efficacy (CSE). I propose a holistic, multi-dimensional approach for trauma treatments that enable PTG using AT and I suggest conducting further research to find multidisciplinary solutions that employ AT to address these commonalities on a broader scale.

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




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