Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Project Type

Mixed Methods

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art Therapy


Art Therapy

Program Director

Richard Carolan, PhD, ATR-BC

First Reader

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Sarah Kremer, ATR-BC


Complex trauma is prevalent, underrecognized, and difficult to treat. Left untreated, the ongoing negative consequences impact individuals, families and society. Literature indicates traditional modes of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder have high attrition rates and are ineffective for approximately 30% of clients (Schouten et al., 2018). Art Therapy provides the opportunity to offer effective, well tolerated treatment for ongoing adverse consequences of trauma symptoms and recontextualization of the trauma due to the highly nonverbal nature of trauma memory (Hass-Cohen et al., 2014). A nested mixed methods design (Neubauer et al., 2019) combining arts-based research with pre and posttest survey analysis gathered detailed, phenomenological information from a single case study of a 60-year-old female trauma survivor. This study investigated her experience of trauma and movement towards post traumatic growth through the collection of data from art, participant feedback, and survey analysis. Results from this single case narrative, arts based inquiry produced improvements in several post-trauma recovery markers (Hass-Cohen, 2014) including self-identified character strengths and yielded support for the significance of the fear/shame bind which is often hidden from consciousness even for clients who have undergone intensive trauma treatment. Further research using the nested mixed methods approach is needed to understand the fear/shame bind including adaptation to groups, which could provide a deeper understanding of the benefits of ongoing recovery support.

IRB Number