Huss, Ephrat

Using social theories and arts based research in arts therapy to define our own multiple truths


Ephrat Huss


This masterclass is about using arts-based research as a way to explore the multiple truths of art therapy: it will argue that arts therapy, rather than accepting a definition of truth or evidence that is outside of its own theoretical view or paradigm, has the option of seriously engaging with the current explosion in arts-based methods in the social sciences and in humanities as a source of evidence.

I will demonstrate that arts therapy has a special contribution to these research methods that ‘re-search’ for the lost multiple truths of non-hegemonic voices, because arts gestalts, by definition, explore the aesthetic embodied interactive relationship between personal identity and social context, through the compositional interaction between figure (actor, dancer, subject, tune) and background (stage, space, background). Arts therapy is already an active participatory methodology with a broad enough hermeneutic space not only to show, but also to transform truths, the aim of participatory and action research methodologies.  Arts therapy also has the ability to re-focus research lenses on the strengths and resilience of marginalized groups, so as to shift static power infused ‘truths’ and define the other as an expert on himself. This is the unique contribution of arts therapy methodologies to social sciences and humanities. Conversely, the contribution of arts-based methods to art therapy is that it enables us to create evidence and an evaluative tool with internal theoretical validity.

This theory will be exemplified using examples from my seventy papers and four books on arts-based methods in art therapy. These examples will show, respectively, qualitative evaluation, co-production of knowledge, decolonizing and feminist paradigms, and transformative and participatory methods in arts therapy research. Placement of arts as a method, subject, or end-product of research enables these different research perspectives.

Additionally, I will demonstrate how implications of these methods challenge central art therapy ‘truths’ that define art in art therapy as a decontextualized subjective exploration of psychological and neurological self. They also challenge narrow definitions of art in art therapy.

Overall, as stated in the beginning, the aim of this masterclass is to draw the parallels and contributions of arts therapy to arts-based methods and vice versa so that arts therapists actively ‘re-search’ for their own truths, as a basis for creating truly robust evidence-informed research and practice.



Ephrat Huss
is a Professor of Art Therapy and Social Work at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, where she heads an innovative MA social work specialization on arts for social practice. She has published extensively using arts-based research to access the experience of marginalized groups. She has published 4 books and over 70 articles on the interface between arts and social practice: arts to co-produce knowledge, arts as resilience with populations undergoing cultural transiton, ongoing poverty, and war, arts as self-care for social practicioners and arts for social justice.


Recent Publications

Huss, E. PI (2015). A theory-based approach to art therapy: Implications for teaching, research, and practice. London: Routledge. 200 pages.

Huss, E. PI, & Boss, EPI. (Eds.) (2017). Figure in background: A handbook of arts’ use in social work practice. London: Routledge (in press) *Malka, MPI., & Huss, EPI. 2017. Using photo-voice with children of addicted parents. Arts in Psychotherapy. (CI ISI 2; CI GS 8; IF 0.695; JR 128/252; Q2 Clinical psychology).

* Horowitz, EPI., & Huss, EPI. Viding, C.C & Rydwik, E.C (2017). Arts as an ecological method to enhance quality of work experience of health care staff: A phenomenological hermeneutic study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well–Being, 12(1). (Online). (CI ISI N/A, CI GS= N/A, IF 1.461; JR= 88/157, Q3).

*Gilboa-Negari, Z. sPI, Abu-Kaf, SPI., Huss, EPI, Hain, G. C, & Moser, A.C (2017). Medical clowning in cross-cultural perspective: Comparison of its effectiveness in reducing anxiety and pain among hospitalized Bedouin and Jewish Israeli children. Journal of Pain Research, 10, 1545–1552. (CI ISI N/A, CI GS= N/A, IF 2.363; JR=90/194, Q2).

*Huss, EPI (2016). Arts as a methodology for connecting between micro and macro knowledge in social work. British Journal of Social Work. p.1–15 doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcx008 (CI ISI=N/A, CI GS= N/A; IF= 0.771, JR= 12/60, Q1 Social work).