Thesis Title

Art Therapy: Couple Experience an Elevation of Mood Following Creating a Mandala Together

Graduation Date

Spring 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


Lisa Bjerknes, MD, MBA

First Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Deborah A. Sharpe, MA, ATR-BC


The hypotheses for this study were a couple creating a mandala together will 1) experience an elevation in mood and 2) an increase in relationship satisfaction. Couples were asked to complete the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) and the State Trait Cheerfulness Inventory (STCI-S <30>) questionnaires, both standardized self-report instruments as a pre-test and post-test. The small number of participants for this study (14 couples) were not sufficient for statistical analysis. The results of the STCI-S <30> did support the hypothesis that couples creating a mandala together would experience an elevation in mood. Average scores of the pre­tests and post-tests indicated that all of the couples experienced a change in mood, thirteen of the fourteen couples experienced an elevation of mood. The couples’ average results for cheerfulness of 1.75 or an increase of, 1.87%, decrease in seriousness of 3.15 or a decrease of, 7.87%, and a decrease in bad mood of 1.93 or a decrease of, 4.83%, indicate that couples did experience an elevation of mood following creating a mandala together. The results of the RAS did not support the hypothesis. Twelve out of fourteen experienced a change in relationship satisfaction; of the twelve, seven experienced an increase in relationship satisfaction, in contrast, five couples experienced a decrease in relationship satisfaction. The study indicated that on average, couples creating a mandala together does have an effect on mood, but not on relationship satisfaction.

The findings from this study may be helpful to art therapists working with couples.