Date of Award

Summer 1978

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Nordberg, Robert B.

Second Advisor

Topetzes, Nich J.

Third Advisor

White, Dennis


Art therapists have always recognized that there is an intimate relationship between art and self-development; however, although aware that art can enhance the lives of normal individuals, they have, because of the exigencies of their work, tended to focus on art's role in alleviating disturbed states of psychological functioning. In contrast, Gestalt art therapy, which has developed in conjunction with a shift in clientele from the emotionally disturbed to clients who simply wish to understand themselves better, emphasizes art's role in enhancing the self-actualization process. Although claims have been made that the Gestalt orientation positively affects self-actualized functioning, there have been no experimental tests of its effectiveness. This study attempted to determine the effectiveness of a Gestat oriented art experience' on self-actualized functioning as measured by the Personal Orientation Inventory. The Gestalt orientation was operationally defined through the use of specific and replicable instructions. It was contrasted with an art experience condition and a no treatment condition. It was hypothesized that relative to these conditions the Gestalt orientation would significantly affect self-actualized functioning. Analyses of variance with repeated measures were used to analyze the data. There was no significant difference between conditions; however, there was a significant difference (p<.001) between pre- and post-test measures for both the Time Competence and Inner Directed scales of the Personal Orientation Inventory in each condition. Sensitization to the variables under study was discussed as a plausible reason for the significant difference between pre- and post-test scores. Possible reasons for the lack of a significant difference between conditions was discussed and recommendations for future research were made.



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