Thesis Title

Hope after loss: Using art therapy to increase hopefulness

Graduation Date

Fall 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


Caryl Hodges, EdD

First Reader

Jennifer Harrison, PsyD, ATR-BC, DAAETS

Second Reader

Carrie West, PhD


Approximately nine percent of women and one percent of men in the United States are widowed. Research indicates that these widowed people are an at risk population. This research proposed the use of art therapy as a means to heal trauma resulting from the death of a partner and thereby increase hopefulness. The widowed participants were under the age of 60. The hypothesis was that integrating art therapy, with a narrative approach would increase hopefulness, as measured by The Adult Hope Scale. The research was based on one session in which participates created a series of drawings, established as part of the Trauma Response Model, depicting various trauma responses. The results indicated that there was not a statistically significant increase in hopefulness after one session. However, as a result of the process, valuable insights were gained by the participants. This proposed research indicates that art therapy can be a valuable tool when working with grieving clients in order to gain insight into the clients grieving process.