Thesis Title

The Effectiveness of Art Therapy with Depressed Older Adults in a Partial Hospital Program

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


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of art therapy, based on a cognitive model, for the treatment of depression with a group of older adults in a partial hospital program. Aspects of depression that this study addressed were low self-esteem, social isolation, and decreased verbal expression. Two Inter-raters observed 21 subjects during ten group art therapy sessions. Seven male and fourteen female subjects were selected on the basis of unipolar or bipolar depression. Although overall results varied over the 10 art therapy sessions, results indicated that specific art therapy interventions increased self-esteem, socialization, and verbal expression. Two additional Inter-raters compared two pictures made by each subject in the first and last art therapy sessions in which they participated. Depression indicators showed that of 17 subjects, for whom .80 Inter-rater reliability was achieved, 65% were more depressed in their first session and 29% were more depressed in their later session.