Thesis Title

Art Therapy with Abused Adolescents: an Efficacy Study in the Non-profit Setting

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 pilot study is to show the efficacy of art therapy when dealing with abused adolescents. It was initiated from examination of an unpublished review of the published hard data research in the art therapy literature between 1982-1995 by Frances Anderson (1996). Anderson discovered there is currently no hard data on the efficacy of art therapy.

This research studies the literature covering the historical patterns of abuse, statistics of abuse, the psychological disturbances associated with abuse. Object Relations theory, art therapy and the efficacy of art therapy treatment. This study evaluates whether thirteen Northern California adolescents, identified as abused actually exhibited symptomatology of abuse as described in the literature. A second component of the study is to determine what the clinical staff and art therapists find effective in art therapy treatment and examine that against what the adolescents feel is therapeutic. Of the seven symptom categories of abuse discussed in the literature, three symptoms were found significantly present in the adolescents studied. Those symptoms were: altered emotionality, cognitiv disorder and impaired self reference. These with one additional category determining art efficacy are discussed as well as treatment findings by the clinical mental health staff.