Thesis Title

An Object Relations Approach to LGBTQ Perspective of Self-Exploration Through Art

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

Carolee Stabno, PsyD, MFT


This study examined LGBTQ perspectives of self-exploration through art by applying object relations theory to gender identification and sexual orientation development A review of the literature indicated that the intrapsychic and social layers of self and identity affect current LGBTQ mental health challenges and LGBTQ attitudes toward therapy. The relationship between the LGBTQ population and the arts provided additional insight into object relations art therapy applications. The main research question asked if the collective artwork of LGBTQ individual experiences would reflect the LGBTQ group experience as a vulnerable population. An art intervention (self- symbol) and the Art-Based Intervention (ABI) questionnaire generated data on attitudes toward the art and the elements in the art comparing ally and LGBTQ responses. The results supported that a global application of the self-symbol intervention resulted in positive attitudes toward the art process. In addition, there were significant differences between LGBTQ and ally art which supported that LGBTQ group experiences may affect the I GBTQ individual's experience. In conclusion, object relations art therapy has great potential to build positive therapeutic experiences while considering both the internal self and the social identity, especially in a population where identity is constantly evolving.