Thesis Title

Women in Mid-Life: Looking at Spirituality Through the Use of Art

Graduation Date

Spring 1999

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


Elaine L. Cohen, EdD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Elizabeth Ratcliffe, MA, MS, MFT, ATR


The purpose of this thesis was to study the experience of spirituality in women going through mid-life, through the use of art. Ten women participated in this study. All of the women were Caucasian. They ranged in age from forty-five to fifty-three years old. Some of the women in the study were actively engaged in religious and spiritual practices, while other women in the study considered themselves just starting on their spiritual “path,” or “journey.” Both a qualitative and quantitative method of research was employed in the study. The first assessment administered was the Arrington Visual Preference Test.^ The AVPT is a structured art-based task developed as an initial step in establishing a normative baseline of visual constructs. The second assessment was an art directive using clay as the medium of expression. The art was used to illicit symbols, metaphors, or archetypes from each participant relating to her spirituality. Moustakas’ heuristic approach was used to synthesize the information presented for core themes both as a group and individually. The information from the art, and the self-reports was found to correlate with the construct cards chosen in AVPT assessment.