Thesis Title

Assessment of Suicidal Youth Using Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Spring 1993

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 rate of adolescent suicide is increasing, resulting in the need for more extensive investigation in the area of assessment and prevention of suicidal behavior. The majority of current inventories and scales available do not sufficiently predict suicidal potential and are not ideal for use with adolescent populations because they have been tested for validity using adult samples. In response this study attempts to validate the use of art in assessing adolescent suicidal behavior. Thirty adolescents were classified into three groups: suicidal psychiatric patients, non-suicidal psychiatric patients, and non-psychiatric patients and were asked to draw a free drawing and an action drawing. The art of the adolescents was rated for the themes of hopelessness, sense of failure or worthlessness, isolation, and anger. On their free drawing, suicidal adolescents scored significantly higher on the theme of anger than the other two groups. On the action drawing, both psychiatric groups rated significantly higher on the theme of worthlessness. The remaining differences in scores were not significant. There was, however, a definite trend; in most cases the suicidal group had the highest means of indicators. Further more, when the means for both the action drawing and free drawing were summed, the suicidal group tended to score higher and depict significantly more of the rated suicidal indicators in their drawings than the non-psychiatric group. The overall findings of this study serve to validate the use of art therapy for the assessment of suicidal potential. The appearance of one or more of these themes in [NOTE Abstract ends here]