Understanding the Natural Lives of Trees: Implications for Art Therapists

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

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Ellen Speigel, MA, MFT, ATR-BC


This research project discusses the natural history and life of trees, and their possible implications for Art Therapy. Understanding the natural history and life of trees may give art therapists greater insight into tree drawings. The historical component discusses a tree's natural history, anatomy, life cycle, and the symbolism of trees found in culture, folklore, and religion. Moreover, the connection between tree symbols, psychology, and its relevancy of tree symbols to Art Therapy Projective Assessment Techniques is addressed. The quantitative component of this research surveyed art therapists and practicing trainees who have experience in administering tree assessments. The data supports the hypothesis that knowledge of the natural history and life of trees will give art therapists greater insight when assessing tree symbols in drawings.

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