Date of Award
Master of Arts
Marital and Family Therapy
School or College
College of Communication and Fine Arts
Jessica Bianchi, Ed.D., ART, LMFT
This research explored how art therapists create a safe and inviting environment for clients to discuss topics related to sex and sexuality in therapy. Our research consisted of three main questions: How do art therapists use art therapy techniques, materials, and directives to create a therapeutic environment in which clients can open up about their sexuality? How comfortable and/or experienced are therapists regarding discussion of topics related to sex and sexuality with clients in therapy sessions? What barriers are there to discussing sexuality in therapy, and how does art help overcome those barriers? Our research subjects were practicing art therapists who are alumni of the Marital and Family Therapy program at Loyola Marymount University. We utilized a mixed methods approach through a Qualtrics survey consisting of quantitative, likert-scale questions, as well as qualitative open-ended questions and an optional art making response, and qualitative data gathering through a singular interview including an art response. Through analysis and discussion of the data collected, we identified ways in which art therapy facilitates conversations about sex and sexuality, and ways in which barriers to these conversations and the utilization of art-making to explore them still exist. The data also revealed the importance of therapists’ own comfort level and education regarding these topics, as well as how therapists’ cultural backgrounds contribute to their comfort and motivation to invite these discussions and to seek out continuing education to increase their clinical competence exploring sex and sexuality in sessions with clients.
Marx, Allison and Verzatt, Lia, "Creating the Therapeutic Environment: An Exploration of Art Therapy and Sexuality" (2019). LMU/LLS Theses and Dissertations. 765.