Thesis Title

Grant Proposal for Enhancing Self-Esteem for Severly Emotionally Disturbed Adolescents Through Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Summer 1995

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


Severely emotionally disturbed adolescents often lack the skills which are the building blocks of self-esteem. The more skillful a person the more likely that he or she will be able to cope in life situations. Art activities raise self-esteem and bolster confidence. (Silver, 1978). The arts can offer access to the much needed experience of success for severely emotionally disturbed adolescents whose academic progress is well-below grade level, who are often characterized as having weak self-control, poor interpersonal skills, attention deficits, and who are beginning to experience themselves as inadequate.

The art therapist is concerned with creating a relationship which will encourage emotional growth and develop competence; a feeling of success in things regarded as personally important or valuable, combined with a general awareness of strengths and an acceptance of weaknesses. (The California Task Force To Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility, 1990, p.63). Art has been found to be an acceptable, non-threatening way to explore and communicate tumultuous and confusing emotional experiences and feelings.

It is proposed that an art therapist meet with selected severely emotionally disturbed adolescents once a week to address the emotional factors that may be inhibiting the growth of self-esteem. In this grant, art therapy will be used as a tool towards enhancing self-esteem through non-verbal expression.