Thesis Title

Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy and Bookmaking to Promote Protective Resiliency of Children Living in a Homeless Shelter

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

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC


This mixed methods study hypothesized that school age children who are living in a homeless shelter would experience an increase in self-esteem and promote protective resilience in a four-session Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy and Bookmaking art group intervention based on Positive Psychology. The participants would also experience an increase in self-awareness, expression, social interaction, creativity, and sense of accomplishment. Additionally, the research sought to answer the following qualitative research question: How does Bookmaking based on Positive Psychology and Focusing- Oriented Art Therapy promote protective resilience factors with school age homeless children? The study was a quasi-experimental, pre-test/post-test research design in which the data was collected from a non-random experimental group and the pre-test and post­test used to measure the participants’ resiliency levels prior to and after participation in the four-session group intervention. The Art-based component used an art therapy assessment, “Draw a Person in the Rain”. The group consisted of four school age children between the ages of seven and twelve. The independent variable was the four-session, one week Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy and Bookmaking group; the dependent variable was the participants’ resiliency. The quantitative results of this study indicated that there was positive change in the pre-and post-test differences for the intervention on the SEARS-C Social-Emotional Assets and Resilience Scale and DAPR art based assessment. From the qualitative findings, an increase of protective resilience was found in participants’ drawings. Participants perceived a positive change in their sense of self after the intervention and found the intervention was found to be helpful in improving self-awareness, self-expression, and a sense of accomplishment.