Thesis Title

At-Risk Adolescent Girls and Fostering Positive Self Identity: Creative Clothing Design as a Narrative Art Therapy Approach

Graduation Date

Fall 2010

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


Lisa Bjerknes, MD, MBA

First Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


At-risk adolescent girls, in particular are exposed to many factors in their environment that pose multiple challenges to their self-identity and self-esteem. Depression and anxiety become issues as these at-risk adolescents experience helplessness and hopelessness with their situation. Having a positive self-identity promotes positive self-esteem, which can counteract the negative effects, these young women experience. This grant proposal seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of a narrative based art therapy group that utilizes creative clothing design and writing with at-risk adolescent girls to foster positive self-identity by 1) increasing self-esteem, 2) increasing self-awareness, 3) social and group skills, 4) sense of personal initiative in healthy risk-taking, and 5) decreasing anxiety and depression. The sponsoring agency for this grant is New Directions Adolescent Services, Inc. a non-profit agency that works with emotionally disturbed adolescents in the Sonoma County region.