Thesis Title

The Borderline Personality in Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Spring 1985

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 borderline personality is reviewed in psychological and art therapy literature. Two case studies with drawings are presented. Review of the case studies supports the usefulness of art therapy with the borderline patient in: 1) diffusing transference by creating a "third space," 2) encouraging the development of the patient’s ability to self-soothe, and 3) replacing the body as the object of self-destructive urges. Because it is a natural transitional object, art is seen as providing an important developmental step for the borderline patient. The processes of art and play combined are shown to allow the borderline to bring together internal and external reality, creating the potential for increased integration.