A Collective Group Art Intervention for Aggressive Adolescents to Increase Their Anger Control Skills

Graduation Date

Spring 2008

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


Gregory White, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


Many researches and clinical studies have been focused on adolescents’ anger and anger management because of the growing concern with the increasing trend of violent juvenile crimes. However, the adolescent is one of the most difficult clients and they are often reluctant, not motivated, and often defiant to treatment for their aggressive behaviors (Hanna & Hunt, 1999, Lennings, 1996). As the negative effects of daily stressors and major life events on youth become evident, interventions to fit their need to reduce stress and related emotional arousal become increasingly important. This paper explains how the art therapy intervention, a collaborative mural project, in a form of a mosaic, can assist aggressive youth to redirect their anger through the nonviolent act of image making. It reviews theoretical components of aggression and the existing theoretical approaches for the treatment of aggressive youth. It also discusses the developmental stages of adolescence in relation to the development of aggression. Moreover, it examines art therapy as an intervention strategy for the treatment of aggressive youth and presents rationales for creating a mural with collective artwork as an anger management intervention to assist aggressive adolescents. It is concluded that this research shows evidence that the collective art intervention is effective in appealing to youth with anger problems and aggressive behaviors.

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