Thesis Title

Expressing the Inexpressible Emotions of Grief and Loss Through Art and Poetry: A Twelve-Week Pilot Program for Grieving Adolescents

Graduation Date

Fall 2009

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


Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC

First Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Carolee Stabno, PsyD, MFT


This grant proposal explores how art therapy and the use of poetry can positively influence the lives of adolescents involved in an after school grief group. During the 12-week pilot program, an art therapy intern and co-facilitator will guide participants through various expressive directives employed as communication tools. Art therapy has been used as a verbal and non-verbal tool communicating difficult emotions which may be challenging to express. The adolescents will benefit from the use of poetry and art to facilitate an understanding of the grieving process, while expressing emotions and enhancing self-soothing. The concluding questionnaire will evaluate how art and poetry contributes to the decrease of isolation, despair, detachment, disorganization, panic, blame, and anger of the grief process.