Date of Award

Summer August 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

Paige Asawa


This research investigates the therapeutic relationship in the treatment process of complex trauma with children under the age of five. The researcher was the subject of the research, based on her experiences in a practicum placement that was focused on early intervention for young children. This research was an art-based inquiry, and the majority of data was gathered from the researcher’s engagement in the art making processes in response, reflection and observation of the therapeutic relationship. Three different perspectives of data where analyzed for themes in order to aid the researcher in the treatment of complex trauma in three domains. The first domain was to further the researcher’s understanding of her clients’ symptoms. The second was the analysis of the researcher’s life experience and its influence on the researcher’s responses to treatment methods and the clients’ symptoms, therefore making up an analysis of the therapeutic relationship. The third domain was the implications for treatment gained from the understanding of the clients’ symptoms and the therapeutic relationship through the analysis of art making processes. The findings illuminated the value of art-based research to better understand the therapeutic relationship and trauma art therapy treatment planning.