Date of Award

Summer 7-29-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Meg Chang


This literature review examines how decolonization can further the use of expressive arts therapies by addressing racist structures and ideologies that impact the mental health field. In order to execute my research and develop my research question, I examine the normalcy of Western ideology’s reinforcement of colonization through the normalization of behaviors including operations that currently cause harm. I came to my proposed question: How are the branches from the planted seed of colonization inflicting harm on the field of expressive arts therapies and those whom the mental health field seeks to serve? I urge examining our past and present by considering appropriation of Native culture, becoming aware of possible complacency, and recognizing systems of power that have normalized harm to Indigenous communities. This normalization also has damaging effects on other marginalized groups. Putting in the work to acknowledge the possible normalization within ourselves can help change our habits and prevent future damage as clinicians. I will prioritize moving forward, utilizing existing documentation to take concrete action focused on decolonizing institutional and systemic racism. The goal is to make structural changes that can have a positive impact in the mental health field while simultaneously helping advance the field of expressive arts therapies. We must bring to the forefront the academics and scholars who advocate for unprejudiced change in the mental health field and take action.




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