Art Therapy Peer Support Group for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Children of Divorce

Graduation Date

Summer 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

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


This proposed project will study the efficacy of an art therapy peer support group for improving children’s adjustment to divorce. Although the divorce rate in the United States appears to have decreased slightly from its peak in 1981 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2004-2005), the U.S. divorce rates remain the highest of any developed country (Resnikoff, 2001) at approximately 50% for first marriages and higher rates for remarriages. (Blaisure & Geasler, 2002, and Cohen, 2002)

As a result, over one million children are impacted annually by divorce - ultimately 40% of all children, (Cohen, 2002; National Institute of Health, 2002; Resnikoff, 2001; Taylor, 2001; Winslow, Wolchik, & Sander, 2004) with the majority of divorces involving children under the age of 18. (Blaisure and Geasler, 2002)

Even though the majority of children of divorce will adapt well to the transitions caused by divorce, research shows that these children are at greater risks of having emotional and behavioral problems. These can include, but are not limited to psychological adjustment, lower academic achievement, conduct/behavioral problems, poor self-concept, depression, and problems with social relations. (Amato, 2001; Cohen, 2002; Schor, et al., 2003; Valencia-Greene and Hijjawi, 2004; Winslow, et al., 2004)

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