The Light is the Tunnel Itself

by Melissa Miller

This thesis explores the use of existential and Buddhist philosophies during an art therapy student’s processing of depression in their own art therapy throughout art therapy training. Using arts-based poetic narrative inquiry, the influence of these perspectives was researched through creation of a poem narrative inspired by artwork, art therapy processing, and journal writings. The themes of Buddhism and existentialism are discussed in relation to a transformed relationship with depression. Through paradox, depression can be seen as a gift that challenges the Self, its meaning and experience. From viewing depression from this lens, the art therapy student’s therapeutic approach was also developed: an approach that emphasises honouring and acknowledging suffering with the client, as a shared meditation, which attempts to contend with and transcend the paradoxes.