Date of Award

Spring April 2013

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 paper investigates how the meditation practice and the self-reflective art of an art therapy trainee informed clinical work with an adolescent client. The self-reflective process included Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 29-minute body scan meditation, a review of the client’s artwork, and a response painting. This course of action was documented in a visual journal form. A hermeneutic interviewing process, or a process of open-ended questioning and dialogue, was used to find out whether or not the therapist’s understanding of the client’s experience matched with his own understanding. His responses were utilized to examine the validity of the findings. The findings support the concept of art psychotherapy as an advantageous approach to opening communication with adolescents because of its ability to permeate defenses (Linesch, 1988; Wadeson, 2010). They also support the idea that responsive art-making increases the empathic response of the therapist (Moon, 1999) and awareness of counter-transference issues (Franklin, 1999). Additionally, meditation facilitated the reflective art process by promoting clarity, focus, and authenticity, and thus, greater insight. There is limited research about the integration of meditative practices in art therapy. The research also indicates that attuned suggestion, although based on the therapist’s subjective experience, encourages the client’s sense of feeling understood. The field of art therapy would benefit from more research about methods of interpretation that avoid the arrogance of assumption. More self-reflective research is needed in our field because these methods increase the competence of practitioners.