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


This study uses heuristic research as the basis for an art exploration into the experience of exposure to traumatic events leading to complex trauma, from early adolescence to adulthood. This paper reviews the existing literature about Islamic religious fundamentalism, political violence and war. The literature on risk factors and the effect on this type of trauma psychology, human rights and women’s rights are discussed. The literature review considers psychological treatment considerations and existing art therapy literature. In the data gathering phase the researcher employs the Art Therapy Trauma Protocol to examine the residual of violent experiences; this includes a series of paintings created using the bilateral stimulation process. After a period of incubation, the data is further culled and analyzed by using filtering with suggested symbolic meaning from various theorists and literature and personal interpretation drawn from dominant themes. This analysis happened during Illumination and Explication phases of the study.

The finding of this study supports that the effect of the traumatic life experiences during adolescence has caused splitting in the researcher. This research asserts that using the art therapy method (ATTP) in combination with the heuristic methodology has helped the researcher to gain clarity about herself and provided a new perspective and schema about self and the world. The research process has helped the researcher to gain a holistic sense of herself as thriving after the traumatic life experiences rather switching between the split selves of the victim and survivor.