Thesis Title

A Study of How Art Therapy May Cause Reduction of Anxiety and Increase in Reminiscing in Individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

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

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Carol Johnson, MA, LMFT, ATR


Traditional therapy emphasizes verbal communication between the client and therapist. Art therapy may be appropriate for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The purpose of the Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research study was to determine if art therapy would improve reminiscing and decrease anxiety in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed using the Formals Elements of Art Therapy Scale (FEATS), a demographic questionnaire, and Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI). The findings of the study reported that the anxiety of the participants seemed to be low. The report did not show signs of anxiety according to the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI). The researcher found inconclusive results if art therapy reduces anxiety. Future research using a pre-test and post-test inventory relating to anxiety needs to be evaluated further. The art therapy improved reminiscing for three out of the four participants in the study. The conclusion of the Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research study was that the use of art therapy does improve reminiscing. Findings support that hypothesis that art making allows older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia an opportunity for reminiscing through art.