Thesis Title

Art Therapy with Minority Special Needs Children

Graduation Date

Spring 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


Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC

First Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


This grant proposal explores the outcome and efficacy of an 8-12 week Art Therapy protocol to enhance self-esteem for minority special needs young adults who have been placed by Child Protective Services or San Mateo Juvenile and Probation Department. This intervention will follow the structural Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Model to address some of the low-self-esteem issues within the clients, integrating at least one art therapy directive into one of the Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Groups. The treatment will include psychoeducation, relaxation, affect expression and regulation, cognitive coping, and enhancing safety, personal outlook and the future well-being of the client will be addressed through the treatment.

Young adults that have suffered from abandonment and abuse will benefit from a collaborative process of using Art Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral focus groups that incorporate cognitive coping and processing. An art therapist or art therapy intern that is also trained in facilitating groups will guide clients through the group participation process and individual debriefings when necessary. Active participation will stimulate the cognitive process of developing positive focus skills and then the art therapy sessions will promote imagination, reduced anxiety and in return may increase levels of confidence and self-esteem.