Thesis Title

The Diagnostic Drawing Series: A Comparison of Psychiatric Inpatient Adolescents in Crisis with Non-Hospitalized Youth

Graduation Date

Fall 1996

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 examine the possible existence of structural and content elements in the Diagnostic Drawing Series, significant to a hospitalized, diagnosed, adolescent population, and to discover if there are recognizable or identifiable differences between this clinical population and a control group.

The population chosen for this research project consisted of two groups of 30 subjects each. The psychiatric group consisted of 17 males and 13 females, between the age of 13 and 17 years, who were currently residing in a locked facility of a mental state hospital in Northern California. Categorized as severely emotionally disturbed (SED), these subjects had disorders (defined by the DSM-IV criteria) such as Major Depression Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Psychotic Disorder, etc. The control group consisted of 11 males and 19 females between the age of 14 and 18 years, high school teens without a diagnosis. The study took place on two locations: the hospital and the high school. The formal aspects of the art were rated using the Drawing Analysis Form (Cohen, 1985), the Tree Scale (Creekmore, 1989), and the Content Checklist (Cohen&Cohen, 1990). Results were analyzed and compared. Results of an inter­rater reliability were examined. 19 variables were found to have a high rate of occurrence (>90%), common to the research group, and 17 variables common to the control group. In addition, 5 variables were found to have high rate of occurrence and be unique to the research group, while 11 variables were unique to the control group. The research also found general 'trends' in variables likely to occur in the drawings of hospitalized adolescents and non-hospitalized youth.

This study is a unique contribution to research studies using the Diagnostic Drawing Series, as it concentrates on the adolescence age group.