Date of Award

12-1989

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Kenneth R. Newton

Committee Members

Wesley Morgan, Howard Pollio, Marvelene C. Moore

Abstract

The field of creative or expressive arts therapies seeks to harness the power for'creative expression to the process of psychotherapy. Although expressive arts therapies are increasingly being used with a variety of populations, including the elderly, the disabled, intergenerational, and cross-cultural groups, a comprehensive theory of expressive arts therapies has yet to emerge. In addition, there is a paucity of research of what works in such therapies. A comprehensive theory of expressive arts therapies, however, can only emerge from the expressive arts themselves, reflecting the uniqueness of the creative process that is at their foundation. Qualitative research focusing on the experience of creativity in expressive therapy settings may be an essential step toward the development of a theory of expressive therapies.

Using phenomenological research methods, this study explores the experience of creativity in relation to training programs conducted at the Person Centered Expressive Therapy Institute (PCETI). Coparticipants were eighteen adults, ages 27 through 65, involved in the institute from a variety of national and international locations. A dialogical research interview was chosen to study the experience of creativity in the context of PCETI. Written transcripts were made from the audiotapes of interviews and used to develop themes that described coparticipants' experiences of feeling creative. A structure of the experience of creativity in relation to PCETI emerged consisting of seven themes: experiencing the creative connection, universality, sharing, trusting, allowing, freeing, and empowering. Methodological checks were incorporated into the data analysis to ensure rigor. The use of a scoring manual and fidelity checks of the themes to coparticipants' experience and the researcher's colleagues' understanding of the phenomenon are described in the context of a qualitative research paradigm.

Results are discussed in relation to PCETI, the person centered approach, expressive therapies, and transpersonal paradigms. The results of this study have implications for the development of a theory of expressive arts therapies and for expanding applications of the person-centered approach. Results also suggest phenomenology provides a rigorous, yet compatible, methodology to research expanding applications of the person-centered approach as well as other realms of humanistic psychology.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Psychology Commons

Share

COinS