Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MCM - MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Rebecca Zarate, MT-BC, AVPT, LCAT


Recent decades have seen a precipitous increase in global forced displacement. Events such as the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis have put a spotlight on the arduous and life threatening journeys forcibly displaced people take to try to reach safety and have also begun raising awareness about the psychological needs of forcibly displaced people. Because of experiences before, during, and after migration, refugees frequently have elevated levels of PTSD, depression, and other mental health symptoms. However, mental health service utilization by refugee populations in various host countries tends to be low. This literature review examines existing research on the barriers to mental health services faced by refugees, with a particular focus on language and explores how expressive arts therapy can be used to mitigate linguistic barriers in mental health treatment. Literature on the use of the creative therapies with refugees reports positive outcomes, including a reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms, increase in resiliency and evidence that the arts foster empowerment and transformation with refugees. However there is a need for more research that specifically focuses on the impact of creative therapies on linguistic barriers when working with refugees. Despite the dearth of research, it is possible to extrapolate from the broader literature on the field of creative arts therapies to make inferences about how expressive arts therapy could be used as a tool to address issues of language in treatment with refugees.

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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