Thesis Title

Postcombat Stress Disorder: A Case Study Using Art Therapy

Graduation Date

Summer 1988

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


This paper examined how Vietnam veterans might use art therapy to process combat trauma. The goal of the research was to discover if the art process could assist veterans to reexperience their combat trauma and to develop ego mastery. Presented was a case study of a 39-year-old Vietnam veteran suffering from postcombat stress disorder who participated in 6 weekly sessions of nondirected art therapy at a Veterans Administration rehabilitation center. The etiology of postcombat stress disorder, as well as veterans' symptoms, and psychosocial adjustment problems were discussed. Advanced was the notion that adjustment difficulties in veterans might result from posttraumatic borderline conditions. The case study illustrated how the veteran mastered his combat trauma and developed integration ego strength through the art process.