Date of Award

Spring May 2011

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 research is an exploration of one art therapist’s journey into the somatic experience of trauma in art therapy treatment. An interview approach provided the opportunity for data collection through a rich dialogue in which the interviewee presented client art along with narrative discussion of the art therapy treatment. Out of the interview and the presented clinical material the following themes emerged: the presence of an early life trauma that affected the individual during their current functioning even years later, dissociation of the self through developmentally oriented age related experiential understanding of the trauma in memory, physical manifestations while discussing the traumatic event/s, nightmares, dissociation stemming from the traumatic event. In addition, the interview revealed fragmenting within the head region relating to cognition, behavioral characteristics of avoidance, and physical experiences within the stomach and head regions of the body particularly feeling as though oneself is overwhelmed and unable to contain the symptoms. The researcher’s reflective art process resulted in a greater understanding of the data and a deepened comprehension of the subjects.