Thesis Title

Exploring Alienation with Adolescents Identified with Serious Behavior Disordered Using Personal Symbols

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


Children with Serious Behavior Disorder (SBD) live emotionally and physically alienated from the majority of their peers. This research uses the development of personal symbols as a therapeutic tool to help reduce the SBD child’s sense of alienation. The research was conducted in 2 art therapy groups over a 12 week period using 10 adolescents as the sample. The design of the research was that of an outcome study assessing a simple observational checklist, pre and post test and the child’s art. Behavior modification was used when conducting art therapy group, allowing for a system of monitoring problematic behavior and enabling the group to explore growth through interactive activities. The research looks at the value of using personal symbols, and hopes to enhance the client’s comprehension and communication skills with self and others, moving away from a pervasive sense of alienation. While statistically inconclusive due to the small sample size and short duration, some differences were found as a result of the intervention.