Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / School of Visual Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Dr Michael Campanelli


This thesis has researched and designed a programme that offers an alternative way of working with aggression in a male prison population, using an art therapy approach that incorporates Buddhist concepts as an intervention. Buddhist practices have traditionally been used in Eastern cultures to calm the mind and to develop compassion as an antidote to aggression. Therefore these practices have seen used as a basis for the design of exercises in the programme. The purpose of the programme is to offer an intervention that will complement, support, or be an alternative to existing treatments, which are primarily cognitive-behavioural in orientation. The research method for designing the programme was qualitative, based on an action research model. This paradigm has an approach of co-operative and participatory inquiry which has its roots in humanistic psychology; therefore, working in such a tradition was appropriate to the nature of the research undertaken in that it gave a humanistic and holistic character to the method. The male prison population was chosen as the focus for the proposed programme because it is a convenient sample, clearly identifiable as a group which is likely to have a problem with aggressive behaviour. If art therapy can be successfully applied with such a group, then it may have relevance to other groups exhibiting less aggressive forms of behaviour. Another potentially positive outcome of this treatment intervention is the benefit that it may have on staff, family, and others who are in contact with this population. In other words, a reduction in the stress levels of aggressive prisoners would hopefully have a more general therapeutic effect upon the quality of all the interpersonal relationships within the larger prison community. The benefit of this research to the field of art therapy is that it has explored the potential of such an intervention being used as a therapeutic strategy in dealing with aggression. The study's findings indicate that Buddhist concepts can be successfully incorporated into the design of an art therapy programme. It is hoped that this programme could be used with any population manifesting aggressive behaviours, either covertly or overtly. The results of this study could potentially benefit a range of client populations where an alternative to aggressive or violent behaviour is sought, and it is suggested that future research could be conducted by implementing the programme with diverse groups.

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Religion Commons