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Voicing the Body


Voicing the Body

Singh, Abha (2013) Voicing the Body. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This qualitative narrative research explores the in-depth clinical cases of three young Hindu South Asian Indian immigrant women (two Indian Hindu, Punjabi and one Indian Hindu, Gujarati) living in a shelter for domestic violence in Canada, using a culturally modified clinical art therapy modality as part of their therapeutic process. These traumatized women of a different cultural/ethnic background from the host Canadian culture, originate from a society where mental health issues are highly stigmatized. Resistance to seek help outside of the extended family system or outside of the community is often an obstacle to seeking treatment. While the incidence of trauma is high in the South Asian community, modalities of treatment are limited. A clinical art therapy protocol developed for this research uses a 12 week program of individual audio-recorded sessions over a five month period, with a therapist of the same cultural/ethnic background as the women. These women are pre-diagnosed by mental health professionals and exhibit distinct symptoms of harm which manifest in three self-harming categories: superficial self-harm, somatization, and self-defined negative body images. The internalized issues of these women are examined. Furthermore, the use of art therapy as another route to embodiment and changes to the self in a bicultural predicament are also explored. Focus is given to the challenges of culture and traditions in treating this particular group. Theoretical literature is reviewed, and the personal meanings the women gained from the art process and the images produced from it are examined. A projective drawing test - the draw-a-person assessment tool was used to interpret self-perceptions, and a questionnaire-based interview at the end of the study was utilized and analyzed to address functioning and symptoms to support this research.
The results of this research pilot project indicate that the act of creating art in the context of clinical art therapy helped inform and transform the participant’s traumatic experiences and re-engaged their coping strategies. By representing their trauma(s) as symbolic creations in the artwork(s), the women gained awareness of their feelings, thoughts, emotions, and symptoms of suffering. The creative process helped facilitate the emergence of insight into their traumatic experience(s) and healing on both a conscious and unconscious level and through verbal and non-verbal communication. The clinical art therapy modality provided detailed explanations on the women’s internalizations and traumas; association between cumulative trauma and embodiment issues; the significance of culture and changes gained through art therapy. This clinical art therapy modality contributes to the trauma treatment of women who are the victims of violence and can be applied across cultural communities.
More specifically, in the description of their experience and response to domestic violence and to the art they have created, an awareness of art as a healing process in their recovery might be elicited.

Divisions:Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture
Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Singh, Abha
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:30 August 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Guzder, Jaswant and Reilly, Rosemary and Mahrouse, Gada and Peterson, Leland
ID Code:978089
Deposited By: ABHA SINGH
Deposited On:16 Jun 2014 13:58
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46
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