Date of Award

Spring May 2012

Access Restriction

Campus Access only Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Anthony Bodlovic


Therapeutic outcomes are explored in a series of case studies where art therapy and storytelling interventions are used with clients. Stories utilized in the study include picture book stories, fairytales, and self-generated narratives. Additionally, the study’s participants created art responses that took such forms as illustrations and altered books. Research questions that were investigated were: When children receiving art therapy engage with stories created by others or the author, how do they respond?; When children receiving art therapy create their own stories, how do they respond?; and Is there archetypal or other psychologically meaningful content in the author’s picture book? Main subjects of the study were clients ages 9 to 12 receiving individual and group therapy services from the author at The Whole Child in Whittier, California. The author was also a subject in the study. She studied her picture book for significant content. A case study approach was used to highlight themes of psychological or therapeutic relevance for all participants. Biographical data as well as responses to interventions were recorded in assessment and progress notes. Additionally, the therapist shared a piece of her own creative writing for each case study in order to understand clients through the storytelling process. Then the biographical data, story, art responses, and creative writing pieces were studied to look for any connections and to draw conclusions. Based on these results, it appears that sharing pre-existing stories with clients or asking clients to create their own stories has therapeutic value. Not only did these interventions appear to aid clients’ expressions, but they also helped the therapist gain important understandings about clients. Similar analysis of the author’s picture book brought to light themes of psychological importance that increased her self-understanding.