Art Therapy and Mindfulness With Survivors of Political Violence: A Qualitative Study

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Abstract

Objective: This study’s objective was to understand how art therapy and mindfulness meditation could be integrated together in the context of different cultures and political violence and in work with asylum seekers suffering from trauma. Method: We conducted a qualitative phenomenological study based on the social construction paradigm. Twelve participants took part in 4 intensive full-day art therapy and mindfulness workshops. The study’s setting was an art therapy and mindfulness studio (Inhabited Studio) in Hong Kong where participants engaged in art making and in mindfulness-meditation practice. Results: Different aspects of the Inhabited Studio appealed to participants based on each individual’s worldview, culture, religion, and coping style. Responses to the Inhabited Studio were organized into 7 thematic clusters. Five themes were categorized into 2 broad categories composed of personal elements (memory, identity) and mediating aspects (emotional/self-regulation, communication, and imagination). The final 2, resilience and worldview, spanned both areas. Conclusions: Participants found the Inhabited Studio culturally compatible and some of the skills they learned helpful in times of stress. This points to how this combination can contribute to building resilience.

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