Home Volume 7 no.3 Evaluation of an Expressive Art as Therapy Program Undertaken in Sāmoa

Evaluation of an Expressive Art as Therapy Program Undertaken in Sāmoa


Leua Latai, National University of Sāmoa, and Lex McDonald, Victoria University of Wellington.


This summative evaluation study was undertaken to ascertain the outcomes and long term impact of an expressive arts therapeutic intervention in Sāmoa, as well as provide an improved template for future use. Following a devastating tsunami in 2009, a therapy programme outlined in an earlier report (Latai and McDonald 2016,) was implemented to assist the children to cope with the trauma of death and destruction. In this second report, face to face semi‐structured individual and focus interviews were used with 8 students and 6 teachers who were part of the programme the purpose being to gain insight into the long‐term impact of the intervention via their perception’ and recollections. Their stories and experiences were elaborated upon during these interviews and a thematic analysis approach was used to analyse the data. Although years had passed,
the findings indicated that the intervention was still regarded favourably and memories were present of an internalised healing via sharing experience. Notable themes included the value of the sharing, emotional release, creation of meaning, stories, future preparation, use of outputs as records of the event and the cathartic experience of using the expressive arts media. Some teacher perceptions were also reported. Several suggestions were provided for improvement of the programme and the limitations and future research directions are outlined. It is concluded that these findings add to the local and international literature about the value and impact of expressive arts interventions to assist with coping of trauma.

Keywords: expressive arts, therapy, trauma, tsunami

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