Thesis Title

Art Therapy with an Electively Mute Child

Graduation Date

Summer 1981

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 explores the causes and functions of elective mutism and presents a case study in which therapy was approached through the use of art. Briefly presented is theoretical information on early childhood development, both normal and pathological. Elective mutism is discussed as a psychological/behavioral disturbance of development in the context of disruptive family patterns. Relevant aspects of family systems theory are explained. A chronological detailing of therapy sessions (with slides) is recorded, including techniques and interpretations of the artwork in the light of specific family information. An account of the child's process is also given. From the child's sustained enthusiastic response to therapy, from observed changes in her speech patterns and general affect, and from the revealing nature of the art itself on both content and emotional levels, it is concluded that art therapy was effective with this child. It is hypothesized that art is a viable therapeutic modality, especially in cases inappropriate or impossible, means are inappropriate such as elective mutism, when verbal