Thesis Title

The Use of Madalas to Reduce Stress in a Homeless Shelter and A Correlation Study of Parent-Child Stress Levels and AVPT Image Choice

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

Doris Arrington, EdD, ATR-BC


This study researched the use of mandalas and the Arrington Visual Preference Test (AVPT) in a homeless shelter. This research explored three hypotheses: mandala making through art therapy will lower stress; there will be a positive correlation between parent and child stress levels; child and parent will choose common images of the most and least preferred symbols from the AVPT test. The Stress-Arousal Checklist was used as a pre-post measure. Five children and three parents participated in two separate sessions (child or parent group) and one combined meeting. The results of this study suggests that mandala making is effective in reducing stress (although there is no statistical significance due to the small sample); parents may have higher levels of stress than the child’s; and there was an average of 2.5 out of 10 for the same AVPT cards chosen by parent and child.