Thesis Title

Focus on Fatherhood: A Visual Journe Using Phototherapy Techniques With At-Risk Teen Fathers

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

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC


This paper describes a preliminary study using phototherapy and video exercises within a male-led discussion group for at-risk teen fathers in San Francisco. While there are many services for teen mothers and couples, teen fathers are an underserved and misunderstood population. Facing the combined issues of adolescence and parenting, they require programs that will address their specific needs. This study used a video diary approach investigating the themes of fatherhood role models, stressors, and future hopes. The goal of the group was for the teen fathers to become “good” fathers via a photo and video documentation of their fatherhood experience. The teens learned basic video and editing skills and prepared a mini-documentary of their journey into fatherhood.

Results were interpreted using qualitative methods from a Narrative theoretical orientation. The combined intervention of phototherapy techniques with discussion appears to benefit at-risk teen fathers and further exploration of this approach is recommended for group therapy.