Thesis Title

Conditions in Which the Process of Art is Healing: A Survey

Graduation Date

Summer 2002

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


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Arnell Etherington, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC


This research paper assesses art therapists’ opinions concerning the process of art making as a healing and life enhancing therapeutic vehicle. Bringing into light the inherent healing qualities of art is an effort to define and establish art therapy as a profession that can stand on its own right. Participants of this study included individuals that are currently practicing art, and/or art therapy and students of the field of art therapy. The sample consisted of 186 individuals with a broad range of age.

Results of this study identified conditions in which the process of art heals and answered the question why art therapy makes a person feel better. The themes are the creative process, the nature of creativity, the relationship between the client and the therapist and the inherent qualities of the arts in the art process.

This study adds to the field of art therapy the value of the process of art making during therapy.