Resolving Interpersonal Conflict Using an Art Therapy forgiveness Intervention

Graduation Date

Spring 2015

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

Jennifer Harrison, PsyD, DAAETS, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Caroline Morton, LMFT, ATR-BC


The purpose of this research study was to investigate whether specific art therapy interventions can change a person's perspective and facilitate a forgiveness process as a way to resolve in­terpersonal conflict. There were 32 participants ranging in age from 18 to 64, selected on the basis of current experience of interpersonal conflict. Participants varied in gender identity and in the nature and intensity of the conflict experienced. Forgiveness is defined as (a) a reduction in negative feelings and thoughts, such as anger and the perception of injustice; and (b) an increase in an individual’s degree of self-efficacy. There was a significant decrease in participants’ levels of anger and hurt between the pre-test and the post-test, indicating an increase in forgiveness. Levels of self-efficacy increased as well, although the findings were not significant. The artwork displayed both the participants’ improving ability to recognize self-subjugating narratives and their efforts to change such narratives into new behavioral patterns.