Thesis Title

A Qualitative Art Therapy Group Study of Individuals Folding 1,000 Origami Cranes for Loved Ones

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

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC


This qualitative study explored the experiences of individuals who had participated in folding 1,000 origami cranes, as a member of a group, for a loved one who was ill with the purpose of answering two research questions: (1) What is the experience for a caregiver of participating, as a member of a group, in folding origami cranes for an individual who is ill? (2) What are the implications of the CFE for art therapy? The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with seven individuals who had participated in the crane folding exercise (CFE). Interviews took place in-person, over the phone, or over Skype (Skype Limited, 2009) an online application that allows the caller to make free calls through the computer to other countries. A phenomenological analysis of the data gathered revealed six themes of the experience of the CFE: (1) a way to overcome a sense of powerlessness, (2) a gesture of love and support, (3) positive distraction from negativity, (4) feelings of relaxation, (5) teamwork and community support, and (6) healing power. The study draws a parallel between elements of positive psychology, art therapy through the use of the CFE, and care for the caregiver. This study highlights the importance of care for the caregiver whose needs are often overlooked. Results imply benefits of the CFE for caregivers include providing caregivers a mode of self care through the use of positive psychology and art therapy.