Thesis Title

Projective and Self-Report Assessment tools Used to Assess for Eating Disorder Risk Factors in Young Women

Graduation Date

Spring 2004

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


The purpose of this research was to establish the need to use art-based assessment tools along with self-report tools to assess for Eating Disorder symptomology in young women. Current assessment methods include self-report measures in eating attitudes and depression, but the presence of the social desirability effect and the defense mechanism of denial can result in false low scores on self-report measures. Incorporating art-based assessment techniques can provide a more uncensored view into the individual’s inner conflicts. One of those inner conflicts, depression, and eating disorders often occur simultaneously, making it a significant assessment concern for individuals at risk for developing eating disorders. This research focused on symptoms of depression, as a co- morbid set of secondary symptoms to disordered eating habits. Moderate correlations were found to support the hypothesis that some individuals score low on self-report measures, but score high in depression on art-based/projective assessment measures. Denial and/or the social desirability effect were present with the sample population, shown by the assessment scores, and should be considered in future studies regarding eating disorder assessment and preventative treatment.