Thesis Title

New Perspectives of Self Through the Aperture: The Use of Photo-Art Therapy to Enhance Self-Esteem of Adolescents Lining in a Homeless Shelter

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

David Sitzer, PhD


This mixed methods study hypothesized that adolescents living in a homeless shelter would experience an increase in self-esteem as a result of participating in a four-session photo art therapy group intervention based on positive psychology, and that there would be an increase in expression, self-awareness, body-image, social interaction, creativity, and knowledge of photography. This study qualitatively researched, “What is the adolescents’ experience of the photo art therapy?” The study was a quasi-experimental research design in which the data was collected from a non-random experimental group. The group consisted of six adolescents between the ages of eleven and fifteen. The independent variable in this study was the four- session, two-week photo-art therapy group; the dependent variable was the participants’ self-esteem. The results of the study indicate that there was an overall positive change in the pre- and post-test of the Rosenberg self-esteem, positive increase of sense of self in the researcher’s designed survey, as well as an increase in expression, self-awareness, social interaction, creativity, and knowledge of photography. The qualitative results indicate that the adolescents found the photo-art therapy group to be enjoyable, as well as helpful for learning new skills, improving self-awareness, self-confidence, expression, self-appreciation, and self-determination.