AHS Research Overview 2022
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We All Breathe the Same Air Reflections From My Expressive Arts Therapy Sessions with Children and Youth on the Autism Spectrum

This paper explores the intersection of expressive arts therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD is viewed through the lense of disability rights, disability justice, and the social model of disability, and from the perspective of an artist, mother, therapist, and researcher. The guiding question for this research is, within the emergent landscape of the social model of disability and neurodiversity acceptance, what role can expressive arts therapy have in providing support for people living with autism? This thesis investigates historical theories about autism and looks at the shifting landscape of disability including current understandings that look at autism not from a social deficit model, but from a resource and strengths-based model. It is an inquiry into how EXA may be a part of this movement. My research is arts based and heuristic in nature and spans over nine years, within multiple settings, including individual work, facilitated playdates, and collaborative art events with children and youth on the autism spectrum.

2022: Master Thesis (English)

cum laude
 


Advisor:  R. Rasmussen-Merz, MSW, CAGS R. Wainwright, PhD

Student: Rachel Amina Rathbun

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Keywords: utism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), expressive arts therapy (EXA), autism spectrum, neurotypical, neurodiverse, normative, behaviour intervention, social deficit model, medical model, social model of disability

Reaching Out Reaching In: Dancing Toward the Inner Self

This thesis highlights the evolving relationship between Expressive Arts Therapy and dance in outreach and dance education settings. I reflect upon my emergence into the arts and transition from professional dancer and educator to expressive arts therapist. My dance facilitations with youth and seniors explore reaching out toward a collective in playful and unexpected ways, while reaching in toward toward self-discovery and freedom. The work examines how phenomenology and embodiment develop awareness and a whole-bodied approach to movement creation and art-making. By merging dance with the expressive arts, the process becomes a welcome place for intermodal discovery, creative play and collaboration. My methods include improvisation, partnering, dancing in a landscape, and interacting with art in a gallery. Students experience more confidence to encounter their artistic voice, connect to others and leave the dance studio with a sense of belonging.

2022: Master Thesis (English)

magna cum laude
 


Advisor:  Bonnie Nish

Student: Lara Barclay

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Keywords: embodiment, dance, phenomenology, play, improvisation, expressive arts, choreography, therapy, partnering

Frames in Expressive Arts Therapy: Embracing Freedom

Started with simplicity and frames, basic principles of “low skill/ high sensitivity” and “less is more” I go further. Thanks to the personal creative process, studying and experience of therapeutic and educational work with people a new significant concept of freedom arose. Freedom which appears in frames, frames which provide, set up space for freedom. In the thesis I research meanings and feelings, look for appearances of freedom in different parts of the expressive arts methodology and creative process. In the research of meanings of freedom, I pay attention to the breadth of this concept, phenomenology of freedom in a field of everyday life reflected in Russian language, as well as in fields of politics, jurisprudence, process of evolution. I also present views on freedom in psychology and psychotherapy, touching concepts of self-determination, differentiation, bonding (attachment), addiction, will, choice, subjectivity, autonomy etc. and pay special attention to the features of the process of forming and developing freedom in ontogenesis.

2022: Master Thesis (English)

cum laude

Advisor:  Varvara Sidorova

Student: Oksana Novikova

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Keywords: frames, freedom, simplicity, liberating, drawing practice, edges of freedom, ways of understanding freedom, self-determination, choice, shaping