Art therapy intervention with "at-risk" adolescent boys: Effects on self-image and perceptions of loss
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The purpose of this study is to gain a clearer understanding of the effects that art therapy treatment has on perceptions of loss and self-image with a population of "at-risk" adolescent males. This investigation was carried out in an alternative school for children that had exhausted other public education opportunities. This study involved comparing qualitative interviews conducted with both a treatment group and a non-treatment group upon completion of three months of individual art therapy with the author. Self-image of all participants was assessed at the end of the treatment period using a quantitative scale specifically designed to measure many aspects of self esteem in adolescents. Interviews were analyzed and consistent themes were generated using Grounded Theory of qualitative data analysis. The author had many roles in this research including principal investigator, therapist, alternative school staff member, assessor, and data analyzer. The discussion section of this dissertation suggests possible themes and the ways in which we might learn from these participants and their experiences. Results suggest no differences in self-image or perceptions of loss between treatment group and non-treatment group. Themes that emerged focused around the following: participants viewed themselves as "bad" kids for having been transferred to an alternative school, treatment group participants enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in art therapy, dynamics of the alternative school create both benefits and drawbacks for participants and interview may not be the best means of gathering data from this population. Future investigations along with the possible shortcomings of this research are presented based on the findings of this study.