Thesis Title

Acquiring New Knowledge Through Art Self-Exploration and Collective Journaling to Enhance Cultural Humility in Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Fall 2016

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


The current study was designed to explore worldviews through self-reflection and relational experience to address a paradigm shift in art therapy. It addresses the concern of how to expand art therapy into collective communities, while respecting the knowledge, wisdom, and methods that already exist and are practiced in these, to foster cultural humility in art therapy. The theoretical underpinnings include the holistic approach of optimal psychology developed by Linda James Myers (1988). The research design is based on a qualitative heuristic method, which includes the primary researcher as a collaborator. Acquiring knowledge through art can take scientific knowing from a place of situated knowing to one of experiential knowing. Viewing culture through a nonlinear, non-Western lens can give art therapists a sense of cultural humility as something that a person experiences regardless of their ethnic background. Thirteen black female art therapists and seven black female professionals in related fields of practice were asked to contribute to collective journals with the one directive of offering their depiction of their experience of “being a Black woman in your field of study as it relates to cultural humility.” Through their participation in this research, the collaborators investigated self-worth, self-identity, and cultural humility. These aspects can increase exposure to truth, knowledge, and interrelated understanding. The aspiration for this cultural exploration of knowing is to elicit new knowledge that can be used to foster an alternate ideology applicable to the practice and training of art therapy. Cultural humility addresses the power differential and encourages the individual and institution to examine privilege within social constructs.