Group Art Therapy for Repetitive Symbolism of an Austistic Adolescent

Graduation Date

Spring 1990

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


A series of structured art therapy interventions were performed in an adolescent art therapy group at a special education day treatment center for emotionally disturbed children. This single case study involved one female group member, 18 years of age, who was diagnosed with autistic disorder, bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss, and emotional disturbance. The subject was hypothesized to experience greater mastery, freedom and expression in her artwork through a series of structured art therapy interventions within the group, and she was expected to reduce her use of repetitive symbolism. The research included data analysis of the repetitive symbols used by the subject in pre- and post-test random samples, pre- and post-test assessments, and a self-report post-test questionnaire.

While the results of this research did not fully support the hypothesis, there was an indication of a reduction of the number of repetitive symbols used. However, it was not statistically significant; nor did it show a strong correlation between the number of repetitive symbols used by the subject and the art therapy group interventions. The results of this research may have been impacted by several factors which included time limitations, peer group influence, variety of diagnoses found among group members, and impact of the researcher and educational setting upon the subject.