Thesis Title

The Use of Mandalas as a Developmental Assessment of Emerging Adulthood

Graduation Date

Fall 2011

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


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Vicki Bynum, MAEd, MFT, ATR


This study hypothesized that mandalas drawn by emerging adults living at their parental home would exhibit themes in the adolescent quadrant of the Great Round of Mandala and that mandalas drawn by emerging adults living independently would exhibit themes in the mature quadrant. An individual was qualified as an emerging adult if they were between the ages of 18 to 29, and had not achieved all of the following markers of adulthood: leaving home, finishing school, becoming financially independent, getting married, and having a child. The study sample included fifty-two participants, with a mean age of 26. Each participant was asked to use the art materials to fill the provided circle with whatever came to mind. This mandala was later categorized in the Great Round of Mandala by 3 independent mandala raters. The results revealed that there was no statistical significance between the mandala quadrants of emerging adults living at home and those living independently. Further results indicated a significant relationship between mandala stage and participant age. Given this relationship, future research may apply a study such as this to a wider sample across the life span.