Thesis Title

The Role of Creating an Art Journal Dureing the Art Therapy Practicum

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


This paper presents a qualitative study on the experience of maintaining an art journal during the art therapists' practicum training. Reported in this study is that graduate art therapy students experience a significant level of stress during their practicum semester. With little time to devote to their own artwork, students find themselves losing what brought them to the profession in the first place—their love of art. Eleven students enrolled in the Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy at the College of Notre Dame participated in keeping an art journal for eight weeks during their practicum semester. All eleven participants found the experience of keeping an art journal to be beneficial; however, time constraints hindered individual participation. The major finding from this study is that keeping an art journal is a positive experience for two reasons: (a) the art process in and of itself is a stress reliever, and (b) it provides a record of the unconscious process of image making. This study concludes that there is a need for art therapy students to be involved in their own art process while training. These findings are discussed in relation to the literature on the effects of becoming a therapist and in relation to the art therapy profession. Limitations of the study and directions for future research in the area of the countertransference and engaging with images are discussed.