Date of Award

Spring April 2013

Access Restriction

Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts


This paper examines the utilization of participants’ nightmares in art therapy to benefit treatment. The researcher utilized a self-study by means of making art about three of her own nightmares, followed by a comparative analysis in case studies. The researcher asked the participants to make art about a nightmare they reported they had while in a treatment session, and then provided them with the opportunity to alter the image for possible means of catharsis. The researcher then discussed the process with the participants in order to answer the research questions. The participants’ ages ranged from 6-15; with two males and a female included. Their diagnoses vary yet all participants had one thing in common: that they all suffer from nightmares. The research revealed the significance of utilizing nightmare processing in art therapy. The practice provides a client with means of sharing nightmares with another person, which may lead to topics never discussed in treatment, a deepened examination of symptoms, diagnoses and fears, and catharsis in the artistic process. The literature reveals that the existence of nightmares is symptomatic, but that the use of processing nightmares in therapy is found to be successful. There is little literature about research with use of nightmares in art therapy practice; therefore this paper is a contribution to the research drought pertaining to this area of the field.