Date of Award

Spring May 2014

Access Restriction

Campus Access only Theses

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Paige Asawa


This study utilized Moustakas’ heuristic methodology as the vehicle in which art creation was explored as a coping mechanism to fend off vicarious trauma when working with incarcerated juveniles with extensive trauma histories. During Moustakas’s initial engagement phase, the following questions were considered: What healthy coping mechanisms help a student deal with the harsh realities encountered in practicum? Can the art creation process fend off vicarious trauma? Can the art making process help the counter-­‐transference and help as a container for residual emotions after contact with a client? The data gathered for the study included twenty pieces of art and twenty journal entries, along with a culminating art piece for the Creative Synthesis. Six major themes were found in the researcher’s art work: Figure drawing, Stream of Consciousness Narrative, Duality, Powerlessness/Trapped, Schema Shifts, and Color. The findings of this study suggest that art making acts as a container for negative emotions that result from working with more challenging clinical populations and assists in fending off vicarious trauma.