Thesis Title

Using mindful mandala making to ground and center military spouses

Graduation Date

Spring 2016

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Harrison, PsyD, ATR-BC, DAAETS

Second Reader

Shilpa Reddy, PsyD


The military asks members to be ready for action at any moment and go on deployments that separate them from their family for extended periods of time. While much attention has been paid to the mental health of those military members, little research focuses on the civilian spouse who is left to take care of family while they are away. This research aims to provide an art intervention that allows military spouses a chance to be mindful and present in the moment resulting in grounding and centering. This Internet based research design used subjective units of distress (SUDS) scale to measure self-reported levels of distress before making the mandala, after making the mandala, and after viewing the mandala for a period of 7 days. The results of this study confirmed the hypothesis that mindful mandala making and viewing will center and ground military spouses decreasing psychological distress and increasing present moment awareness and well-being. Acceptance and Commitment Theory Framework provided a lens for qualitative analysis of the follow-up questionnaire results. The mandala making and viewing intervention presented an easily accessible art therapy based stress reduction option for civilian military spouses.