Date of Award


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 qualitative research explored the impact that art therapy and attachment focused treatment may have on a child or adolescent with complex trauma. Literature was reviewed to explore complex trauma in children and adolescents, as well as explore treatment models that include but are not exclusive to art therapy and attachment focused treatment. The current study utilized interviews, as subjects were invited to engage in the art process and discussion with the intent to discover new, in-depth meaning about treating complex trauma in children in adolescents. Data collected from interviews revealed gaps in the mental health system and how art therapy assisted in providing a bridge for the clients to improve their ability to navigate a complex system. Art therapy was found to assist in forming secure attachment for the client, a primary function in the treatment process. Findings also suggested that art therapy provided clients with tools for communication to explore and express their external and internal experiences in a safe environment. Findings further demonstrated the importance of establishing a therapeutic relationship with children and adolescents with complex trauma as essential for maintenance of progress in treatment.