Thesis Title

Does The Picture Fit the Diagnosis? A Comparison of an Art Therapy Assessment, A Person Picking an Apple From a Tree (PPAT) and Existing DSM IV-TR Diagnoses in Children with Severe Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities

Graduation Date

Spring 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 study examined whether there was a relationship between the DSM- IV-TR diagnoses in student files and the art therapy assessment to draw “A Person Picking an Apple from a Tree" as measured by the Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (Gantt & Tabone. 1998). A pool of thirty-eight students enrolled in county special education classes for behaviorally and emotionally disturbed children participated in the study. Students ranged from 7-14 vears in age. Students were asked to draw a person picking an apple from a tree, and the resulting pictures were rated by four art therapists according to the FEATS scale. The diagnoses in the student's files were compared to the findings from the FEATS scale and also to graphic indicators as described by the FEATS. A relationship was found between the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis for Major Depression and the FEATS scale for depression, as well as a possible relationship between the DSM-IV-TR for Bipolar, manic phase and the FEATS graphic equivalent for Bipolar Mania. The majority of the sample population was comprised of participants with diagnoses that do not fit into Gantt's Graphic Equivalent of Symptoms, namely Asperger's Disorder. Anxiety Disorder. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders. Some predominant patterns were found with the DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of ADHD that align to specific FEATS scales; however, there are no established graphic equivalents to indicate a relationship between the diagnosis and the FEATS.