Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


Adolescence is an important developmental period marked by a search for identity and an increase in impulsive behaviors and intense emotions. The current study explored how a combined art therapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS) model is beneficial and appropriate for adolescents in a school setting. A brief art therapy group was facilitated with students at a therapeutic high school. The intervention integrated IFS approaches, including externalization and guided visualizations, with the goal of understanding parts and increasing self-compassion. Three main themes emerged based on observations of the sessions: 1) the concept of parts encouraged self-understanding and reduced shame; 2) visualizations promoted unblending and increased access to Self; and 3) externalizing parts through artmaking supported reflective distance. Participants also benefited from the group therapy experience and connected through witnessing and peer support. Findings suggest that integrating art therapy and IFS is a valuable and developmentally appropriate approach for working with adolescents.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License




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