Graduation Date

Spring 2022

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Project Type

Mixed Methods

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy


Art Therapy

Program Director

Amy Backos, Psychologist, PhD, ATR-BC

First Reader

Erin Partridge, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Janene Perez


This study explores the use of a children's book followed by the application of the Draw A Story (DAS) art therapy assessment tool by Rawley Silver (1988). The study takes place in three elementary school classrooms located in the greater Bay Area region. Previous literature addresses the historical uses of children’s books and their potential to offer therapeutic benefit to young readers. Through a quasi-experimental, one-group posttest only design, eighteen second to third grade level students were asked to reflect on a children’s book by writing a story of their own. Participants were between the ages of seven and nine, and all attended the same school. After choosing two DAS provided stimulus cards, participants drew images including the two cards and explained their images through a story with them in it as the main character. Quantitative data was collected and scored based on the three DAS scoring scales: Scale for Assessing Emotional Content, Scale for Assessing Self-Image, and Scale for Assessing Use of Humor. Results were categorized as expressing more positively themed, neutral themed or negatively themed content in the artwork and description of the story. Themes were compared to the themes presented in the children's book to assess for similarities. It was concluded that 64% of participants appeared to identify with a drawn subject who had a positive or aggressive self-image, with 28% presenting more negative or dark humor in emotional content. No significant findings were made in the similarities of the participants’ artwork and story to the themes in the children's book. Future research should inquire for direct examination of students’ art and stories made in response to a children's book without any additional stimulus card or assessment.

IRB Number



Janene Perez is the Director of the Lurie College of Education Student Success Center