Story, Symbol, and Metaphor in Art: Using Art Therapy to Facilitate Change in Dominant Client Narratives

Graduation Date

Spring 2004

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


Narrative therapy attracts an increasing number of clinicians in the counseling field each year. The interpretation of the client’s experience serves as the basis of Narrative Therapy, utilizing symbol and metaphor to generate solutions that reflect the client’s problem saturated stories. When combining the principles of Art Therapy with Narrative Therapy, numerous personalized symbols and metaphors present themselves in the artwork. Results indicate that both the symbols and the metaphors in the art illustrate: 1) how the dominant problematic narrative affects the client, 2) movement towards alternative stories, and 3) the emergence of alternative stories. By looking at the symbols and metaphors used over the course of therapy, it is possible to determine how the dominant, problematic narrative influences the client as well as illustrate the emergence of alternative outcomes.

Only available in print