Sarah Allen

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


Art Education

Committee Chair

Terese Giobbia

Committee Co-Chair

Joseph Lupo

Committee Member

Kristina Olsen


Public schools in America follow a carefully structured pattern tied directly to the societies and cultures from within. While this structure may create a positive and familiar learning environment for some, others who are unfamiliar with the societal and cultural norms within public school structures, may be left behind. Some learners have simple language barriers that exclude them from activities as well as others during the school day; some choose silence out of fear or embarrassment from unknown circumstances; while others are labeled as Special Education and are not able to speak to others verbally as a "normal" child would. Whether their reactions to their environments are caused by relocation from overseas, trauma, or a learning disability that has altered reality for a family or child, children find relief in expression, nonverbal communication, and even therapeutic healing through the artistic process (Elbrecht and Antcliff, 2014).;In the United States it is more common than not to have multiples languages spoken in a classroom, and the percentage of students with disabilities, or those suffering from trauma has increased drastically (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone, 2012,). Too often we simply remove the child from the general education room, or let them fall into a category of "problem" children, who are never expected to perform at the same level as the rest of the class. Instead of allowing such students to flounder, the use of artistic process or therapeutic art techniques could provide such students an outlet for communication, expression, healing, and overall well-being. Studying the effects of the artistic process could benefit the Art Education discipline and create a cross curricular path, connecting any subject where a child struggles to communicate. Artistic Process could also provide a therapeutic passage in the classroom for students who are suffering from trauma to assist in the overall well-being of the learner. Lastly it may provide a bridge between cultural and linguistic barriers, allowing the classroom to be fully connected and culturally diverse.;Using case study methodology, this research investigated how artistic process may be used to help individuals verbally communicate with instructors and peers within a selected setting in rural West Virginia. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential of using artistic process or art therapy with selected students suffering from trauma, disabilities, or inability to communicate, and determine whether alternative artistic approaches would aid educators in understanding the dispositions and thought processes of individual learners.;The research questions, which framed my study included: 1. Can artistic process and art therapy approaches improve the well-being of selected learners? a. What are the benefits of using art therapy approaches on non-verbal learners? b. What is talk therapy? c. What are the benefits of talk therapy on non-verbal learners? 2. How is artistic process used to positively communicate with non-verbal learners? a. Does artistic process make communication available for those who are unwilling or unable to communicate verbally? 3. Does artistic process stifle thinking and/or communication? a. Can artistic process help non-verbal learners with metacognitive process? b. Can art process support metacognitive process and thinking?