Alessandra Colfi, Ph.D.(c)

Member IEATA


Why a web-based Dissertation


"The very essence of the creative

is its novelty, and hence we have no standard by which to judge it"

                             ~ Carl Rogers

Title Content Introduction Why a web-based Dissertation Chapter 1 2 3 more chapters...     Story Telling Cancer Patients Developmentally Disabled   Bibliography

When I enrolled in the EXT graduate program and we were all involved with the Qualcomm project, I thought the perfect dissertation for me was to produce a video as EXT teaching tool, targeting IUPS students and EXT practitioners in general. I had since put the video project aside with the awareness that not just filming, but editing would involve an unpredictable length of time and budget, especially since I don’t have any editing equipment or experience.


Just recently, I learned about WEB-BASED dissertations in ‘The Authentic Dissertation – Alternative ways of knowing, research, and presentation’, by Four Arrows, aka, Don Trent Jacobs, 2008, where Simon Pockley, Ph.D. from Australia contributes to the book's collection of essays with his pioneer dissertation and mentions the Electronic Thesis & Dissertation Movement or ETD; universities have incorporated his protocol, such as Virginia Tech, and the University of Vermont among others.


I’m very strongly drawn to designing a website as my dissertation format and to ‘tell my story’ about how I came to use EXT, how I use it, the people I work with, the kinds or workshops I facilitate, the work with students, and exercises, journaling notes about sessions, etc.

The largest topic this idea belongs to is: " Empathy Expressed: Expressive Arts Therapy as Agent of Peace". This could be the official title of the dissertation.

A website is a great platform for my expressive arts-based dissertation at least for these reasons:

·         Collage is my preferred art medium – designing a website is very much like a collage;

·         Multi-layers and links/inquiries are a metaphor for EXT processes;

·         It provides a visual/functional framework that is conducive to a mainly visual artist like myself, who also thrives in and incorporates all the arts -  dance/movement, music, story telling, etc. ;

·         Flexibility of combining text, images, PPT presentations, video, links to reference materials and links to sources for future expansion of the material and of the field of EXT;

·         A step into creating teaching tools within University-Without-Wall concept;

·         Flexibility in the development and evolution of the dissertation itself, which is a dynamic living organism, as opposed to a static book;

·         Live contributions and interviews can be incorporated;

·         Easy sharing within the EXT academic field and with the public;

·         Low-cost production;

·         It spares trees and chemical inks to print it;

·         It can easily be edited into a book later if desired.


I started by creating a link on my website and building the dissertation as an add-on. It can become a stand-alone website later, with no disruption.


The dissertation would be like a road-map with multiple objectives:

·         For me to understand what happens during the EXT sessions and why people respond they way they do; who/what is the change agent; what plays in the transformative (therapeutic) process.

·         For self-expression of ‘My Story’

·         As a teaching tool for IUPS students;

·         As a teaching tool for EXT Practitioners;

·         To further the field of Expressive Arts Therapy;

·         To encourage people of all ages, gender, ethnicity, occupations, interests and talents to integrate at least one expressive art form into their lives, for their own wellbeing and that of others;

·         To pursue the ongoing objective of creating peace within individuals, in communities, in the World;

·         To provide practical exercises and activities for teachers of all subjects, so that students can find ways to relate to and enjoy the material taught and make it their own, according to their learning style; this is what make students excited about learning.


'A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for reflection, and not an invitation to hypnosis'  ~ Umberto Eco




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