Thesis Title

The Effects of Art Therapy Homework on the Self-Disclosure Statements of Seriously Emotionally Disturbed Adolescents

Graduation Date

Summer 1997

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


This paper investigated the effects of self-directed art therapy homework on the quality and quantity of self-disclosure statements. Subjects involved in the study consisted of nine seriously emotionally disturbed adolescents (5=boys, 4=girls) ranging in age from 15 to 18 years old. The subjects are described as seriously emotionally disturbed as defined by Public Law 94-142 and attend an adolescent day treatment center in the San Francisco Bay area. In addition, each participant had a psychiatric diagnosis ranging from Major Depression to Schizoaffective Disorder. Ethnic origins represented by this population included: 2 Hispanic, 1 Spanish, and 6 Caucasian. The results of this study suggest that the opportunity for independently created art work in the form of art therapy homework assignments may increase the adolescent's quantity and quality of self-disclosure statements. Of the nine participants, four subjects consistently completed the art therapy homework assignments and shared the work with the researcher. For these four subjects, a correlation was found between the completion of the art therapy homework assignments and an increase in the amount in the amount and level of self-disclosure statements. The results found for and level of the other five subjects were inconclusive sue to sporadic attendance and inconsistent follow through of the art therapy homework assignments. It may be concluded that for some adolescents, the opportunity for independently created artistic expression may provide an outlet and valuable tool for communication and self-expression.