Thesis Title

Triumph of the Spirit: Creative Art Therapy and How It Impacts on the Quality of Life of Handicapped Elderly Patients in a Convalescent Home Setting

Graduation Date

Spring 1989

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


There is a need for handicapped elders, living in Long term care settings, to enjoy mental stimulation and emotional challenge. Creative Art Therapy, which uses painting or drawing, ceramics, narrative or poetry and encourages exploration of thoughts feelings and life review can provide such a challenge. When presented in a supportive environment, this process can offer these elders an opportunity to feel good not only about past but also present accomplishments. Research, both in the fields of medicine and psychology, support that mental as well as physical exercise have positive affects on elders in long term care. The work of this research paper studies nine handicapped elders in long term care who have been involved in the Creative Art Therapy program. As a result of their involvement, they have experienced a desire to be involved in other activities, related more to peers, expressed enthusiasm for their own creative efforts, and maintained optimistic outlooks. The quality of life for these and other handicapped elders in long term care can be greatly enhanced through the Creative Art Therapy experience.