A Review of Expressive Therapies for Refugee Populations

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

April S. Masarik


Prevalence rates of mental health problems are high among refugees and similar populations exposed to conflict, such as asylum seekers and immigrants (Steel et al., 2009). One type of mental health intervention for refugees that has a limited but growing body of research is expressive therapy. Expressive therapies involve art, drama, dance, music, as well as other forms of creative expression to facilitate mental health interventions (Malchiodi, 2005). Research involving refugees and similar populations have used the following types of expressive therapy: art therapy (Rowe et al., 2017), music therapy (Baker & Jones, 2006), drama therapy (Rousseau et al., 2007), play therapy (Schottelkorb, Doumas, & Garcia, 2012), and sand-tray therapy (Rousseau, Benoit, Lacroix, & Gauthier, 2009). In addition, some psychosocial interventions include forms of expressive therapy to foster the healing process (Ager et al., 2011; Gupta & Zimmer, 2008). The increasing amount of literature on expressive therapies for refugees needs to be consolidated and evaluated to gauge its overall effectiveness and provide direction for future research. In this presentation, we will provide a review of the research on expressive therapies for mental health interventions among refugees and similar populations.

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