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The Phenomenological Experience of Zentangle® and the Implications for Art Therapy Open Access


Other title
interpretive phenomenological method
art as research
mindful art therapy
art therapy
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Deborah Ann Kopeschny
Supervisor and department
Heather Stump
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Pamela Brett-MacLean
Dr. Susan Makin
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality (Art Therapy Specialization)
Degree level
In this phenomenological study I explored the lived experience of Zentangle practice and its link to mindfulness, spirituality and Art Therapy. This study was informed by personal experience of Zentangle as a means of creative self-expression and mindfulness meditation. Van Manen’s (2014) interpretive-descriptive phenomenological approach, along with arts-based (McNiff, 2013a) and phenomenology of art expression methods (Betensky, 1995) were used to describe the lived experience of Zentangle. Seven experienced Zentangle practitioners, including five Certified Zentangle Teachers, participated. Findings were based on a variety of sources including focus group discussion and artwork obtained following a Zentangle re-enactment, and two semi-structured, follow-up interviews. Data extracted from transcriptions of the focus group and follow-up interviews were thematically analysed and organized according to four stages of experience common to meditation: entering, mindfulness meditation, awareness, and outcomes. The predominant description of outcomes associated with Zentangle practice was its centering effect. Zentangle provided a means of connecting with and integrating the self. It also served to enhance confidence, and fostered a sense of connection and community. The results suggest that Zentangle can be considered as a mindful/spiritual practice that promotes self-awareness, insight, creative problem solving and can also positively affect emotional and physical well-being, which make it potentially applicable as an Art Therapy tool. Limitations of the study include the number of participants, and bias of participants and researcher. Additional studies regarding the use of Zentangle in therapeutic environments and with different populations are needed to expand understanding, generalizability of findings, and application as an Art Therapy tool.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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