Thesis Title

Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy as a Means of Stress Reduction With Graduate Students

Graduation Date

Spring 2012

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, MFT, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Deborah Sharpe, MA ATR-BC


This study sought to test the effectiveness of using a mindfulness based practice. Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy, as a way to reduce stress and raise students' perceived levels of self-compassion in graduate students. Participants consisted of 9 female graduate students in the Art Therapy Psychology program at Notre Dame de Namur University. Participants took part in two group sessions where FOAT's Clearing a Space with Art Directive and Non-Directive Imagery were administered. The Stress Arousal Checklist and a self-report stress scale were used as a pre and post-test to measure stress levels before and after the CAS with Art exercise. Self- compassion was measured using the Self-Compassion Scale as a pretest in the first session and a posttest in the second session. Quantitative and qualitative results showed that FOAT's CAS with Art is an effective technique in reducing stress. Results did not indicate an increase of the participants' perceived levels of self-compassion. Quantitative and qualitative data are discussed. Artwork is used to illustrate the qualitative data.