Thesis Title

The Effect and Experience of Clearing a Space with Art on Stress Reduction in Sign Language Interpreters

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

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC


Interpreters report higher levels of stress than other individuals involved in practice professions. This study hypothesized that Clearing a Space with Art, a Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy approach (Rappaport, 2009) would lead to measurable as well as perceived decreases in stress. Three variations to Clearing a Space with Art were used: concrete, directive, and non-directive. Participants expressed a preference for the non-directive approach. Measurable stress did decrease, although not markedly. At the same time, participants reported perceived reductions in stress, centered around themes of pleasure and relaxation in art-making, and an overall sense of physical and psychological well-being.