Graduation Date

Fall 2021

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

Jennifer Clay


This research study explored the potential of comics within an art therapy and narrative therapy framework. The process of depicting a past problem as a single image was compared to the process of depicting the same problem as a comic. This study worked with 15 normally functioning adults to compare the effectiveness of the two formats (comics vs. single image) in processing a past problem or challenge. Participants evaluated these two formats through a survey and a brief verbal interview. The quantitative data from the survey and the qualitative data from the interview were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the comic format as compared to the single image format. The art-based data collected from participants’ single images and comics was also analyzed for unique characteristics the comic format evoked. All interactions with participants took place virtually over Zoom to ensure the safety of participants and the researcher during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data indicated that participants responded positively towards the comic format. The comic format seemed especially effective at facilitating the narrative therapy technique of deconstruction. These results support the study’s hypothesis that the comic format is as effective or more effective than the single image format in eliciting a narrative from a past problem or challenge. The art-based data suggested that the comic format evokes unique representations of time and movement in participants’ narratives. The findings of this study strongly suggest that creating comics or sequential art has potential for use in an art therapy setting, particularly in helping clients process past problems or challenges.

IRB Number