Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Ann Yali


art therapy, racial/ethnic disparity, gender disparity, educational barriers, career barriers, self-determination theory


Substantial racial and gender disparities exist in art therapy (AT), with 90% of U.S. art therapists identifying as White and female. This has been identified as a major concern of both practitioners and educators, though little research has been performed. To understand the role of student motivation and barriers to the field, this study recruited 116 undergraduate students academically exposed to AT. Student interest in the field, psychological needs defined by Self-Determination Theory and perceived educational and career barriers were measured. Autonomy, relatedness and competence regarding studies in AT as well as financial barriers were significantly related to interest in the field. No racial/ethnic differences were found in the motivational elements, and the only gender difference was in females reporting greater competence. Racial/ethnic and gender differences for in multiple barriers were found, and artistic ability was introduced as a potential barrier. Financial concerns were the greatest barrier across all groups. The major limitation was the sample’s small proportion of underrepresented groups. While the majority was female, the proportion who identified as neither female nor male was double the size of the male cohort. Future studies should continue examining the disparities in AT and be more inclusive regarding gender.

Included in

Psychology Commons



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