Reducing Stress: An Art Therapy-Based Group for Parents of Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Graduation Date

Spring 2005

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

Ellen Speigel, MA, MFT, ATR-BC


The purpose of this research project is for “parents” of children with ADHD to establish a sense of control by decreasing their stress levels through a group art therapy-based program. Parents are defined as biological parents, guardians, or legal caretakers of children with ADHD. A proposed 10-week group will be run out of Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, and is estimated to be $3909.29, for two groups with eight parents in each group. The group will consist of parents who have a child, age three to six, with the diagnosis or likelihood of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

A child diagnosed with ADHD is often impulsive, inattentive, and hyperactive, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR. Therefore, a child with ADHD proves to be difficult and as a result, causes a disruption in the dynamics of a family system. Early intervention is critical in promoting success, for a child with ADHD. Behavior modification along with a collective approach to treatment, which includes interventions for the family, has been proven to be effective.

The basis of the group will be on how parents can intervene with their child after they have learned appropriate ways to cope with their stress, through art therapy methods peer support. Literature concerning a parent’s self care is not emphasized enough, and the issue remains; how can one that lacks care for the self, care for others. The parents in the group will learn to acknowledge their stressors to group members, and normalize their experiences, through their process in creating art to facilitate healing and growth.

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