The Development of Self in Women: Healing Workshops for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


As a curriculum development project, this thesis focuses on the ways in which the integration of critical and creative thinking skills, particularly flexibility in thinking, problem-identification, problem-solving and awareness of frames of reference, have influenced and refined the author’s counseling skills, as they pertain to women who were sexually abused as children. Following a review and synthesis of relevant works of Warren, Sternberg, Garnder, Torrance, Gallo, and Rogers, ten healing workshops, designed to be problem-finding and problem-solving in nature, draw upon the inspiration of authors from spiritual, educational, and psychological practice, in particular Borysenko, Gruber and Wallace, Bass and Davis. These workshops begin with a look at each individual, through one’s own eyes and then through the eyes of another. During the course of ten weeks, the participants use writing, clay, drawing, role-play (through visualization), ritual and discussion to re-claim their bodies and spirits and to find their individual voices that were silenced through abuse and its ramifications. The workshop sessions culminate with a verbal sharing in the group of each woman’s autobiography. All of the workshop exercises have been read, reviewed, and evaluated by women who are presently in the healing process. Based on these insights and experiences, the thesis includes suggestions for the transfer of critical and creative thinking skills to life situations and modifications for further implementation. In a broader context, this thesis serves as an illustration of the usefulness of critical and creative thinking strategies to illuminate frames of reference that have lost their usefulness and to create new ones. It also details a problem-solving approach that allows not only for discarding that which is no longer necessary, but also for the creation of new, more empowering visions of life available for women. As Torrance says so succinctly, “Creative behavior has healing qualities- and so does solving one’s problems.”


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