Thesis Title

Art Therapy Mirroring Techniques to Enhance Parents Sense of Self: Effect on Children and Adolescents

Graduation Date

Fall 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


Parents that have developed a positive and cohesive Sense of Self will be more effective parents; directly affecting the parental perceptions of the child and decision making abilities related to child rearing and parenting. Whereas parents that are struggling with a negative self-concept and have in turn developed a negative sense of self, due to past interpersonal conflicts and present child rearing situations are less likely to respond to the needs of the infant, child and/or adolescent. (Partridge, 1988). Because the parent serves as a mirror to the child, their behavior and attitudes directly help form a child's experience of self. (Dunn & Munn, 1986). Research indicates that positive mirroring from parents is effective with children, it is also effective for parent's enhancement of sense of self. (Heineman, 1992). Mirroring helps individuals to experience and understand different levels of reality, within the context of nonverbal expression. Moreover, McConeghey (1977) writes about art as an affirmation of non­verbal sources of awareness and feelings. The created art form organizes object relations and mirrors them back to the parent. (Rubin, 1987). The purpose of the art is to experience and express immediate perception and awareness. The experience of inner representations of the self will lead to growth and positive sense of self by translating intrapersonal insights into interpersonal relationships. (Zinker, 1977).

Regardless of age or experience, a parent goes through steps of development from which he/she develops a sense of self. The sense of self refers to all experiential qualities comprising the subjective and objective aspects of oneself. This creates for the individual or parent a self-concept attached to a value system. (Glodis & Blasi, 1993). The experiences of the individual are symbolized, perceived and organized into some relationship to the self. (Rogers, 1974).

Through a parent's art process group using Art Therapy Mirroring Techniques to help them organize internal object relations and attain and integrate missing links parents will experience a positive sense of self. It is hypothesized that the parent's positive sense of self will mirror to the children, thereby increasing their sense of self, consequently developing prosocial behavior.

Art Therapy has a unique advantage in that it helps the individual reflect from what he/she creates. The Art Therapist proposes to meet with the participating parents in an art process group once a week and use Art Therapy techniques providing a safe and supportive framework to address factors associated with exploring the inner and outer object world, developing a positive sense of self, and powerful intervention tool to enhance the sense of self