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 case study explores the benefits as well as the challenges of using art therapy with an emotionally disturbed child who was seen in three different settings. The literature reviewed for this case study covers the wide variety of factors affecting the client, including prenatal exposure to drugs, drug abusing parents, neglect in the postnatal environment, difficulty attaching to others, classification as emotionally disturbed (ED), requiring a special education classroom setting, and a diagnoses of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The findings indicate that the art proved to be a particularly useful tool with which to assess and treat the client. Initially, the client’s reluctance to create art in the session was interpreted by the author as being a reflection of her abilities as an art therapist. By examining her countertransference, the author was able to understand the client’s reluctance as a reflection of his difficulty attaching to the therapist and collaborating with his family. The findings highlight the importance for emerging art therapists to address their countertransference in supervision when working with clients who appear unwilling to make art.