Thesis Title

Providing the "Release" Through an Art Therapy Journal While Promoting Insight: For Adolescent Self-INjurers

Graduation Date

Spring 2000

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

Doris Arrington, EdD, ATR-BC


Some adolescents may experiment with drugs, alcohol or eating disorders to handle their emotions and feelings, now many self-injure. Adolescents who suffer from self-injury might engage in various types of injurious behaviors, all which might be a cry out for help, self-punishment, self- expression, means of feeling in control or a way to release the bad toxins that they believe lurk inside of them. An Art Therapy Journal was developed as alternative form to achieve their desired release, while gaining insight. The journal was designing specifically for adolescent self-injurers. This suffering population was assessed through interviews with field experts, by phone and formal conversation, interviews with adolescent who self- injure and reviewing literature. The journal was used by four female patients suffering from self-injury, who were recommended to work through the art therapy journal. The research was conducted on an adolescent locked psychiatric unit, located in Northern California. The form of research design is descriptive. The data was collected through self and significant other reports, and written and image responses. The journal was proven to be an effective form of treatment for adolescent self-injurers.