The Option Mandala: A Brief Art Therapy Intervention for Sexually Active Teens

Graduation Date

Fall 2003

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

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


Nearly one half of our teen population of girls is facing the hard truth of being pregnant by the time they reach their 20th birthday (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 1997). A specifically designed, brief art therapy intervention, referred to as the Options Mandala, and a questionnaire were administered to 20 adolescent girls, ranging in age from 15 to 21, within three Planned Parenthood “Teen Clinics” in Northern California, while waiting for their pregnancy test results from an options counselor. A questionnaire completed by options counselor was also used to gather data. The findings showed a pattern of responses in terms of their use of color and level of expressiveness as related to how many previous times (first, second or third) they had had a pregnancy scare, and the amount of time they spent meeting with their options counselor. Generally, there was a very positive response to making art in the health clinic by the adolescent participants, and to drawing inside a circle. Each participant received a negative pregnancy test result whereby it is hypothesized that these girls had taken the opportunity to create an Options Mandala that helped to develop reflective skills to further facilitate options awareness. Continued research utilizing similar methodology is advised to further support this inexpensive, time-sensitive intervention as a tool for reducing anxiety, enhancing patient and options counselor relations, and preventing teen pregnancy offered in women’s health clinics. It is crucial that these young people are given the helpful resources necessary to make healthy, mature decisions that could ultimately affect them, their families, future generations, and society as a whole.