Toland, K. (2022). Paint the dark: An exploratory intuitive inquiry into artmaking as a transformative practice in the context of bereavement [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

This creative, depth psychological intuitive inquiry explored the transformative effects of the creation of artworks in the context of bereavement and loss. In doing so it attempts to investigate and address a gap in art-therapy literature, namely the underreporting of theoretical models, and lack of operationalisation of interventions, in the context of bereavement. Four semi-structured interviews were conducted with artists who had experienced a bereavement or loss and used artmaking as part of their healing process, and the researcher’s own bereavement experience was additionally included in the data. Thematic content analysis was used to code the data, and the research process was informed and shaped by intuitive practices, including the cultivation of symbolic images, imaginal dialogues and empathic identification with these images, and the processes of their creation. The twelve themes that emerged from the data were: having always made art, artmaking as obsessive, emotional processing, the creation of a separate physical space, entering a distinct psychological state, the emergence and overcoming of ego wounds, feeling grounded in the self, connecting to others, continuing bonds, processing transpersonal experiences, and creativity as a reusable resource. The research concluded by interweaving findings with transpersonal lenses and suggesting transpersonal theories could serve to underpin art-therapy practice and form the basis for the operationalisation of art-therapy interventions.

Alef Trust logo

Transpersonal psychology newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive updates from the world of transpersonal psychology, news, events and updates on new webinars, courses and programmes.