Thesis Title

Perspectives of a Diasporan: A Heuristic, Arts-Based Inquiry of the Importance of Therapy in Armenia

Graduation Date

Spring 2021

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Melissa McAlexander, PhD

First Reader

Erin Partridge, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, PhD, ATR-BC


There is great concern over the mental health of Armenian women in the wake of the Armenian “#metoo” movement. The aim of this research was to inquire the researcher's historical and cultural perspectives on patriarchal cultural norms, which has marginalized women and perpetuated abuse in their society. This recognizes the concept of cultural humility in the Armenian population that arose from these phenomena. As the researcher is an American-Armenian diasporan living in the Bay Area working in mental health, she has her own opinions over mental health stigma that need to be addressed. This exploration was conceived through a heuristic, arts-based inquiry via altered book making. Through this process, the researcher immersed herself in a myriad of different Armenian-specific items, such as reading articles and socializing online with the diaspora over these concerning topics. As this study continued, the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 Artsakh war transformed this artistic response as a concern of the overall concern over mental health stigma in the Armenian community and diaspora. It was anticipated that through the art’s findings, there would be an understanding of the Armenian diaspora’s needs and the emphasis on understanding generational historical traumas, cultural norms in an Armenian family setting, and how patriarchal views in the culture play a part in the stigmatization of mental health care.