Thesis Title

Grant Proposal for the Establishment of an Art Therapy Program at the Family Resource Center of Salinas/Seaside Facility of Monterey County

Graduation Date

Spring 1991

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


Child abuse is a reality in today’s society. Sexual and physical acts of abuse result in deep physical and psychical scars. Sensations, images and emotions are internalized by the child and part of the child’s psychological development becomes stuck (Allan, 1988).

Statistically more children everyday are becoming either psychologically, emotionally, physically or sexually abused (Kehoe, 1988). According to statistical data from the Family Resource Center in Monterey County, one of every four girls and one of every seven boys will experience some form of sexual molestation by the time they reach eighteen years of age. The need is great for more assistance in this area.

Painting, drawing, and play enactment are ways conducive to externalizing these forms of abuse, hence enabling the psyche to be healed and move forward (Allan, 1988). For children, drawing presents a ’’midway” path for such expression because it is neither a distinct verbalization nor action. Play, for children, as shown through art therapy, role play, puppetry, and sand tray, allows them to express their feelings and thoughts in safe terms (Cooper, 1978). Information about children can be assessed through not only the outcome of the art but also through the art process. Children often are able to ’’talk" more easily about themselves and others through play and drawings, and in this way provide important information and insights that therapists seek (Zilbach, 1987). During the art therapy process the therapist is able to extrapolate information from the images and symbols present by talking directly to the symbol as if it were real. Thus, the symbol is used as a focusing device or vehicle through which further growth can occur (Allan, 1988). This serves as an especially powerful tool in working with children because they often have problems communicating verbally.

Fordham (1957) in Allan's book Inscapes Through a Child's World mentions the primary relationship between the self and the ego, stating that the ego will develop out of the self in concordance with cortical maturation, to form the center of consciousness. Thus, it becomes equated with the "I” as we know and helps the individual adapt to the outer world (Burns, 1988).

In a child's world the connection between the ego and the self is imperative in that it serves as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious personalities. If the the self is to grow and the ego to mature, some form of symbolic outlet is needed for the child (Burns, 1988). Art, painting, drawing, puppetry, and play therapy provide this important outlet.