Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study explored the experiences and meaning of artistic expression in the lives and work of psychotherapists who also create visual art. Utilizing a semi-structured, open-ended interview format, ten experienced therapists were interviewed about their experiences creating art and how they believed their artistic identity impacted their clinical work. Participants had varying degrees of experience creating art and utilized several types of artistic media included: painting, photography, mixed media, and jewelry-making. Participants described a wide range of emotions associated with their creative process and many reported that involvement with art enriched both their lives and clinical work. Many described creating art as a parallel process to the work of therapy, both involving: patience, mindfulness, attunement, and love. Participants believed their involvement in art not only served as a vital form of self care, but also influenced their clinical work in terms of their: clinical approach, ability to see multiple perspectives, ability relate and connect to client, use of creative interventions, and use of artwork in the therapy office. The findings of this study support the importance of therapist self care through engaging in activities that create a sense of joy and meaning in life while nurturing ones complex identity. This study also illustrates connections between art and therapy that were not found in the previous research.


iii, 92 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 85-86).