Victim to Victimizer: Breaking the Cycle: An Art Therapy Group Intervention with Sexually Abused Boys in a Residential Settting

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


As an important part of our services to the community, St. Vincent’s School For Boys (San Rafael, California) has designed a twenty-five week art therapy peer group model to address the issues of sexual abuse within our clientele. The proposal will create five groups comprised of clients referred through their individual therapist and treatment team. The art therapy peer groups will provide a forum in which clients will learn to explore, identify, and process feelings associated with the abuse. Through the use of metaphor, the process of creating and expressing, and giving and receiving support, they will work to resolve the shame and stigmatization associated with the abuse. Child sexual abuse issues are difficult to treat. Victims often never resolve their issues, continuing to act out their abuse through adulthood. In this way the cycle of victim to victimize remains unbroken, perpetuating the abuse. Art Therapy, and Peer Group Therapy are two modalities of treatment that have been shown to be very effective with victims of sexual abuse. By combining these two modalities of treatment, the proposal hopes to assist these clients in changing their ways of relating to the world, the process of healing, and creating survivors out of victims.

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