Thesis Title

Integrating Ecotherapy and Art Therapy to Foster Professional Identity Formation

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

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Lisa Manthe, MFT, ATR-BC


The purpose of this study was to create a space and a place for graduate Art Therapy students to engage in a non-dualistic process of self-awareness through two novel ways of knowing: nature and art. It was hypothesized that participants would discover inner and outer relationships of the self through interaction with the natural world and art-making; and would engage in embracing and reflecting upon the transition of becoming a practicing therapist. The main research question of concern to this study is: Will integrating art and ecotherapy provide an experiential activity which fosters insight and self-awareness of one’s professional identity?

Results showed that participants were able to create metaphorical relationships relating to becoming a professional through their interaction with the environment. Participant’s engagement with questions surrounding becoming a professional produced many unknowns and anxiety in reference to their future as a practitioner. Participant’s engagement in the experiential activity resulted in being able to gain self awareness surrounding struggles with their internal strengths, weaknesses, and insights into becoming a professional.