School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Floralba Arbelo Marrero


Creativity, Resilience, Hermeneutical, Phenomenological, Trauma, Artistic, Inspiration


Arts and Humanities | Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the perceived resilience of creativity derived from childhood trauma for professional creatives employed in the Nashville music industry. The theories guiding this study were Masten’s resiliency theory and Vygotsky’s theory of creativity as they informed the literature on my topic by understanding the link early childhood, especially trauma, had on creativity and the link trauma had on resilience and the life courses of individuals. The qualitative design of this study was hermeneutical phenomenology. The purposive sample consisted of 10 participants who qualified from a purposive sample pool of 117 occupational creatives who were performers, musicians, and writers, and the setting was Nashville, Tennessee. The research questions were: What were the lived experiences of people who suffered childhood trauma but found relief and resilience through creative endeavors? What was the turning point (trigger) for creatives who experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences to begin creating or performing? How did trauma derived creativity foster childhood resilience and adulthood artistic inspiration? I collected data through interviews, artifact analysis, and focus groups. The five themes that emerged from this study were: creating provided escape and a coping mechanism; trauma enhanced creativity through awareness, empathy, and perspective; resiliency was a byproduct of adversity; artistic inspiration came from everyday life; and creating was accompanied by a spiritual component. The most important takeaways from the results of my research were: childhood adversity reinforced creativity, creatives found resilience through escape and artistic inspiration; and trauma derived creativity increased awareness and compassion toward others.