Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

Abstract

This study explores the experience that Art Therapy alums have had in regards to spirituality and healing within a multicultural framework and the implications of art. Narrative based questionnaires with creative art responses were used to gain information about their experiences of spirituality, healing, culture, and art. The data obtained was analyzed using phenomenologically-informed methodology: organized into tables and analyzed vertically and horizontally (Creswell, 1998), the creative art responses scored using FEATS (Gantt, 2009) analysis. From the analysis, clusters of meaning, similarities, and unique experiences emerged and were categorized into 21 emergent categories: Centering, Growth, Connection, Meditation, Prayer, Art as spiritual and healing, Spirituality as inner wisdom, Nature and spirituality, Spirituality as God within, Spirituality as different from religion, Change in religious status over time, Spirituality as changing over time, Spirituality as community, Spirituality as healing, Integration, Prominence of color, Amount of space used, Blend of abstract and concrete images, Inclusion of nature, Choice of Media, and Art responses connected to spiritually associated words.

Three overarching themes emerged as relevant to understanding the significance of spirituality and healing within a multicultural framework and the implications of art: Spirituality as highly personalized form of integration, Spirituality as offering a sense of both personal and universal connection, and Art making as a spiritual, healing practice.

This study found that all the participants had a rich experience with spirituality and healing, and that this concept of the personal spiritual for each of them did in fact situate itself inside a more multicultural construct. The findings indicate the importance and relevance for spirituality to be included as part of the dialogue in healing and therapy, and more broadly, in culture. Further, it was found that not only was art making implicated within the spiritual and healing process, it was, in fact, a main tool of the spiritual practice.

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