Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MCM - MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Chapin Stephenson


Recent research across disciplines has established the significance of the overlap between neurodivergence and gender diversity, a truth long espoused by the community. Acting on this research, some mental health disciplines have begun addressing neurodivergent transgender and gender diverse people as a unified population in their research, but the field of art therapy has not yet followed suit. Theoretical frameworks of intersectionality, queer theory, and disability justice highlight the importance of centering the unique experiences and needs of neurodivergent gender diversity. Using these frameworks, this literature review synthesizes community knowledge with art therapy research on both neurodivergence and gender diversity, identifying current and historical issues as well as common themes that lay a foundation for empowerment-oriented clinical work with neurodivergent gender diverse people. Themes identified in literature on gender diversity include a history of misgendering, pathologization, and erasure, as well as present strengths of platforming gender diverse voices, work on issues with embodiment, and the benefits of community. Themes identified in literature on neurodivergence include issues of erasure, misdirected focus on behavior, and ableist perspectives, as well as the benefits of a creative and non-verbal context, the wide sensory potential of art materials and processes, the provision of a supportive structure, and the opportunity to develop skills for managing executive functioning. Conclusions based on these findings highlight the benefits of community engagement, the importance of considering access needs, and the impacts of oppression, illuminating critical knowledge and tools for future clinical work and research with this intersectional population.

Creative Commons License

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




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