Thesis Title

Treatment of Adolescent Obesity Using Behavioral Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Spring 1992

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


This is a request for $10,328 in grant funds to organize art therapy groups for overweight, adolescent females in conjunction with the Gold's Nutritionalysis program in Berkeley, California.

Gold's Nutrionalysis, a subsidiary of Gold's Gym Enterprises, provides nutritional and fitness counseling for persons of all ages. The twelve week program includes professional consultations one time per week on the premise that a long term weight control program is the only effective treatment for weight reduction.

Brownell and Stunkard (1980) estimated that the prevalence of obesity in childhood and adolescence is approximately 6% to 15%. The obese child characteristically comes from an enmeshed, overprotective home, which results in feelings of ineffectiveness, dependency, and a poor sense of identity (Brone & Fisher, 1988). Creative arts provide an important experience of competency for adolescents to cognitively, tangibly, and emotionally confront anxieties, misperceptions, and emotional conflicts related to the underlying dynamics of body image and self esteem (Schneider & Legow, 1990; Wolf, Willmuth, & Watkins, 1986).

The proposed program will have control and test groups with a maximum of 6 female adolescents per group. Both groups will receive the weekly Nutritionalysis counseling, while the test group will be involved in a weekly art therapy group that, will follow a specific art therapy curriculum focusing on topics of self esteem and body image.

The Coopersmith Self Esteem Inventory (1967) and the Weiss Projective Drawings (1986) will be used as pre and post test evaluations to determine whether the integration of art therapy into the Gold's Nutritionalysis program will enhance the weekly weight loss of the test group clients, enhance self esteem and improve body image perception; and increase the retention rate and attendance percentages of the client population.