Decreasing Social Isolation: Combining Narrative Therapy and Art Therapy in Supporting Veterans

Graduation Date

Spring 2014

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


The purpose of this research study is to investigate how a combination of Narrative Therapy and Art Therapy in a group setting can be effective in decreasing levels of social isolation among veteran populations. In addition, this research study seeks to investigate if a combination of Narrative Therapy and Art Therapy in a group setting can lead to an increase in levels of perceived social support among veteran populations. The proposed art therapy group will serve as an addition to pre-existing psychotherapy groups available to veterans. The goal is the integration and recognition of art therapy as integral in supporting current veteran populations struggling with mental illness such as PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. A combination of Narrative Therapy and Art Therapy integrated in a group session will support Veterans by exploring current difficult issues, learning new ways of coping, and supporting social interaction through the process of art making and the exploration of art images. This grant proposal presents a brief overview of mental illness during WW I & WW II, current mental illness issues in the military, social isolation, and suicide and their correlation with mental illness, the benefits of social support, and how narrative and art therapy can rehabilitate individuals with mental illness by increasing their levels of social support.