Date of Award

Fall 9-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Donna Owens


This paper investigates the use of expressive arts therapy to support LGBTQ+ adult clients in rural communities. Caring professionals in rural areas often lack training on how to work with LGBTQ+ clients, and best practices for clinical mental health counseling with rural LGBTQ+ clients have yet to be defined. Some evidence suggests that using “metronormative” best practices with rural clients may be irrelevant or cause harm (Giano et al., 2020). Although some recommendations exist for using expressive therapies with LGBTQ+ clients, they are rarely evidence-based, as very few empirical studies exist evaluating the effectiveness of expressive therapy interventions with LGBTQ+ populations. To address these gaps in the research, I use the lenses of rural queer theory and embodiment (a key component of expressive arts therapy) to explore how LGBTQ+ clients may experience their identities within a rural community context. I review empirical studies on LGBTQ+ embodiment, and the work of two rural queer theory scholars, to contextualize how a therapist might implement expressive arts interventions ethically with rural LGBTQ+ clients. I describe five expressive arts interventions which show promise for supporting rural LGBTQ+ adults in cultivating positive experiences of embodiment. Expressive arts therapy’s emphasis on embodiment may be useful to clients who experience oppression on the basis of sexuality and/or gender identity. Expressive arts therapy supports clients in articulating their own identities and stories, which is important because rural LGBTQ+ adults may conceptualize their identities using a different paradigm than the one that is dominant in mainstream media, queer theory, and LGBTQ+ activism.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License




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