Using the Feats With the Person Picking an Apple From A Tree Art Directive to Diagnose Depression in SEB/SBD Children Placed in Special Education Classrooms

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

Roberta Hauser, ATR-BC


Thirty-eight severely emotionally disturbed and / or severely behavior disordered (SED / SBD) students age 7-14 participated in this study. Each student was individually asked to draw “a person picking an apple from a tree” (PPAT). The drawings were rated by four Art Therapists according to the Formal Elements of Art Therapy Scale (FEATS) (Gantt & Tabone, 1998). The study hypothesized that using the FEATS with the PPAT would indicate the presence of depression in SED / SBD children placed in special education classrooms. The drawings produced were divided into two groups based on whether the artist’s mental health diagnosis included depression (the D group, which included 10 drawings) or did not include depression (the N group, which included 28 drawings). The data collected was analyzed in order to reveal patterns in the FEATS scores. In this study, the D group scored higher than the N group on 10 of the 14 subscales (FEATS #2,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,13, and 14), the same on one (FEATS #7), and lower on three (FEATS #1,3, and 12). Individuals diagnosed with 299.80 Asperger’s Disorder / Pervasive Developmental Disorder generally scored low on Scales #1,3,4,5, 7,8,10, and 12 whereas those diagnosed with 300.00 Anxiety Disorder NOS had high scores on Scales #1,2,3,4, and 7. The Scale that had the largest difference in scores between the D group and the N group was #8 Problem Solving, which also had the largest standard deviation in scores. Overall, the students with a diagnosis of 299.80 Asperger’s Disorder / Pervasive Developmental Disorder tended to have lower average scores than the students with other diagnoses in the SED / SBD classes. The results of this study appear to validate that there is a relationship between certain patterns in FEATS scores and various psychiatric diagnoses in SED/SBD children in special education classrooms.