Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


This thesis explored the implications of choice in individual art therapy sessions with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, contrasting the creative process of unstructured expression and a more directed book-making activity focused on emotions. Research took place within the scope of six weekly 45-minute individual art therapy sessions with a 12-year-old boy in a therapeutic day school. The design of this study was based on the pre-established presenting needs of the student, focusing on growing skills for self-regulation, addressing social-emotional deficits, and providing an outlet for positive self-expression. The sessions were documented by the clinician, a clinical intern studying art therapy at the Master’s level, in clinical and personal notes. This researcher conducted an extensive literature review and applied analysis via a detailed process of response artwork and reflection. Observations and initial findings suggested prominent themes of space and containment, attunement, and connection. In result, data indicated that both directive and unstructured artistic exploration of emotion may show effective significance with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with emphasis on the importance of growing self-efficacy in the process.

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