Thesis Title

Art Therapy as a Treatment Modality for Processing Recurring Dreams and Anxiety

Graduation Date

Fall 2013

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

Jennifer Harrison, PsyD, DAAETS, ATR-BC


The hypothesis for this study was that using art therapy techniques to process and interpret a recurrent dream will increase insight and reduce the anxiety related to the dream or problem causing the dream. It was further hypothesized that the process would also lead to a reduction of frequency of the dream occurrence and possible elimination of the dream. Ten participants were divided into two groups and completed the same interventions. Participants were asked to draw an image from a recurring dream, share with the group and reflect on each other’s dream and artwork. In a second session participants were asked to relate their dream to a waking life problem and find a solution, as well as re-drawing their dream as they wish it had occurred. The STAI assessment was used to measure anxiety pre and post intervention. Results indicated a statistically significant reduction in anxiety as well as self-reported increases in insight and awareness, inspiration for change, and inspiration to enter therapy. The findings of this study may be helpful to art therapists working with persons with anxiety and experiencing recurring dreams.