A Heuristic Arts-Based Study on the Long-Term Effects of Physical and Emotional Abuse on Adult Survivors

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Walkey-Thornburg, Michelle
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
Although the art therapy literature documented the value of art therapy for abused children and adults, few resources focused on the usefulness of art therapy in addressing the needs of survivors of childhood physical and emotional abuse. Through an arts-based heuristic study, the researcher who was a survivor of physical and emotional abuse, recreated a life-sized, three dimensional self-portrait that held great meaning in her experience of childhood abuse. This heuristic study investigated the usefulness of personal art making for coping with the lasting effects of physical and emotional abuse. A thematic analysis noted major themes that may have implications for adults with a history of childhood physical and emotional abuse. Results from this limited study may provide insight into how self-portraiture and reflective journaling in art therapy can be used with this population.