Art Therapy and Runaway Homeless Youth: An Exploration of Trauma and The Survival Response of "Flight"
Date of Award
Spring May 2014
Master of Arts
Marital and Family Therapy
School or College
College of Communication and Fine Arts
This qualitative case study examined the influencing factors of runaway behavior, trauma, and the survival response of “flight.” The participant, an 18-year-old male residing at a transitional living program, ran away at age 17 and experienced a significant trauma history. Throughout the course of treatment, artwork and clinical notes were used as data. Many themes surfaced in the analysis process, including controlled chaos, body fragmentation, sun symbols, female imagery, and lack of color. The act of running away emerged subtly, whereas, traumatic experiences, chronic in nature and beginning early in life, were acutely evident. While the study was specifically concerned with the “flight” response, due to the age of the client when the traumatic events began, the “freeze” response was more prevalent in his artwork. This suggested that further research with this population may reveal the thread that connects these two survival responses and specifically when the “freeze” response shifts to a “flight” response related to running away behavior.
Marschall, LeAnn K., "Art Therapy and Runaway Homeless Youth: An Exploration of Trauma and The Survival Response of "Flight"" (2014). LMU/LLS Theses and Dissertations. 59.