Thesis Title

A Grant Proposal for Using Art Therapy to Improve the Self-Esteem of Adolescents in a Special High School fo rAlcohol and Substance Users: And for Providign a Foundation for a Substance Free Life

Graduation Date

Summer 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

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


The art therapist who is the applicant for this grant proposal has completed a graduate program for a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy. She has been an intern in a private psychiatric hospital doing art therapy with adults, children and adolescents, most of whom had substance use problems. She is currently a volunteer classroom aid at the proposed site with the adolescents who have substance

use problems.

The adolescents in this specialized high school program have been identified as having severe alcohol and/or substance use problems. They may lack the skills which are the building blocks of self-esteem as identified by their academic progress being well below grade level, their weak self-control, their poor interpersonal skills, their behavioral problems, and their lack of problem solving abilities and coping skills.

These adolescents are presently using a Twelve Step Program to address their alcohol and substance use problems. It is believed that adjunct therapies greatly accelerate their recovery process.

The objective of this grant is to utilize art therapy to engage the adolescents in a creative process of exploring themselves through internally generated imagery. The resultant imagery becomes a framework for self evaluation, transformation and developing appreciation of oneself. It is this appreciation of oneself that leads to an •nhanced sense of self-esteem and thereby out of the cycle of self-destructive behaviors that are concomitant with substance use. In this process of self-discovery the adolescent develops the positive feelings, coping skills and personal growth which provide the motivation needed to maintain a substance-free life.

The total cost of this project will be $42,828.54