Date of Award

Summer 9-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


Older adults are a growing and vulnerable population who experience discriminatory practices that impact their access to equitable housing, employment, and healthcare which was made even more obvious during the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States. A community engagement project was developed and facilitated by the writer to support older adults with the psychological effects of surviving the pandemic. This project also helped to increase accessibility to expressive arts therapy in the writer’s local community. Expressive arts therapy is an effective and accessible method to support mental health and wellness for people of all ages. Engagement with the arts helps to decrease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic including depression, isolation, and stress. This thesis explores the therapeutic benefits of self-portraiture with an under resourced population of adults 65 years and older at a health center in Boston, Massachusetts. Participants created self-portraits together, exploring and expressing personal strengths and skills that helped them to cope. The participants experienced positive benefits from the workshops because they had the opportunity to socialize, practice identifying and overcoming their inner critic’s judgments, and create an art piece that could be presented to the local community. The results of this project indicate that using self-portraiture is an effective and accessible way to explore the inner self, process challenging emotions such as grief, and engage in self-expression




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