Art Therapy and the Empathic Relationship: Three Case Studies

Graduation Date

Summer 1987

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 paper presents three case studies which were used to determine the value of Art Therapy in enhancing the empathic relationship. The three boys, one of them eight-years-old and two of them eleven-years-old, were students at a residential school in San Francisco, California. Each case history was uniquely different and each child responded differently to the Art Therapy. In the first case, E., the therapy process was in progress and empathic gain could not be assessed accurately. In the second case, D. , empathy was certainly present, but not necessarily due to the process of Art Therapy. D.'s borderline behavior was the most challenging of the three cases and diagnostic information on borderline personalities is included in the body of the paper. In the third case, F. , there was definite gain in the empathic relationship due to the use of Art Therapy.

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