Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Mitchell Kossak


Phenomenologists identify the subjective body and its felt-senses as the basis for human development and consciousness, including mental health. Several mental health disorders, when viewed from a phenomenological perspective, share common symptomology related to varying extents of fractured selves, which in turn hinders dynamic interaction between individuals, their actions, and their relationships with their social and material worlds. Autism is one such condition. Hence, I created an intervention to investigate how listening, which foster subjective and intersubjective experiences, lies at the heart of somatic and arts-based interventions. This thesis, first, begins with a summary of the presenting symptoms observed in autism and highlights gaps in current treatment approaches. Second, listening and music improvisation are introduced and related to subjective and intersubjective outcomes. Third, this thesis project introduces the Feldenkrais Method, which is a somatic learning-based pedagogy for the development of the self-image. A 12-year-old boy diagnosed as operating on the autism spectrum and his family in the context of In-Home Therapy are involved in a case study. Two treatments sessions were given over a period of 4 weeks: one session utilized Feldenkrais Method and the second session used music improvisation. A first-person subjective approach was used to capture the results. Favorable outcomes such as play and pleasure, a developing self-image and spontaneous emergences were observed within the sessions. As such, this approach can be considered a useful one for a more in-depth evaluation of listening practices.




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