Assessment of Mental Disorders: The Rainbow Phenomenon
Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy
Degree Granting Institution
Notre Dame de Namur University
Elaine L. Cohen, EdD
Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC
Veronica Magay, MA, MFCC, ATR-BC
Color is within the life experience of almost every individual and is freely chosen or bypassed in art therapy. Art therapists are trained to use art both therapeutically and diagnostically. Knowledge of color preference may serve as a valuable guide in designing effective therapeutic sessions for those suffering with mental illness. Clinical reports describe interesting distinctions in art expression among those with differing psychiatric disorders. This study tested a guideline for color assessment with adults diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. It utilized a single drawing to test for the presence or absence of color. The purpose was to determine if color combinations varied between diagnoses. Male and female participants were selected from an outpatient mental-health clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. The instructions entailed drawing a personally expressive rainbow—either conventional or fanciful. The rainbows were categorically analyzed by color prevalence, elaboration, and diagnosis. In art therapy, the mentally ill constantly communicate through their color choices, creating a need in the field for a color-based assessment suitable for administration to patients with mental illness. The assessment tool implemented in this study may become the basis for future art-therapy inquiries and improved treatment plans for this population.
Huber, Laura, "Assessment of Mental Disorders: The Rainbow Phenomenon" (1998). Art Therapy | Master's Theses in Print. 28.