Thesis Title

Early Intervention: Teaching Social Skills to Preschool Aged Children Using Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Spring 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


The purpose of this study is to assess whether art therapy can be used au early intervention technique to effectively teach social skills to preschool aged children. The ten week, art therapy social skills group consisted of eight male subjects who ranged in age from three years to six years old. One of the subjects was African American and the other seven were Mexican American. All of the children were in a special day treatment preschool for behavioral and emotional disturbances and because they had been expelled from at least one previous placement. The children were rated on eight pre-determined behaviors which were considered basic social skills necessary for a successful existence. The results of the study indicate that art therapy, paired with behavior modification techniques, was an effective way to teach these preschoolers appropriate and acceptable ways to behave socially. There was an overall increase in the student’s positive behavior over the course of the group. Questionnaires given to the classroom teacher’s indicated that the staff observed an increase in the children’s behavior during the group experience. Overall results of this study indicate that with early intervention, an appropriate environment and positive social interactions young children are able to quickly develop social skills that are necessary for success in life.