Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Garrett McAuliffe

Committee Member

Theodore Remley

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh


Visual journaling is thought to promote students' critical reflection upon their previous learning, their current experiences, and their ongoing professional growth. Research supports the value of written journals as educational tools that encourage reflection, but the potential for visual journaling to facilitate reflection has not been explored through systematic inquiry until now.

This qualitative multiple case study explored four art therapy students' and four counseling students' responses to visual journaling during their internships. They maintained their journals throughout one 15-week academic semester, and were interviewed four times over the course of the study. Data consisted of transcribed interviews and photographs of participants' journal imagery.

Data analysis yielded three overarching patterns: The Internship Experience Overall, The Visual Journal Experience, and Journaling Process. The first pattern refers to the participants' affective reaction to the challenges of the internship, the foci of their internship work, and the ways they responded to the internship other than through visual journaling. The second pattern refers to the participants' use of the visual journal in response to the internship experience. The third pattern encompasses the participants' approaches to the process of visual journaling, such as media used, and the participants' evaluation of their experience with the visual journal.

The participants' experiences in their internships closely paralleled the characteristics and phases of professional growth described by Ronnestad and Skovholt (2003) and Skovholt and Ronnestad (2003). This sequence has not been documented heretofore in the art therapy literature.

The visual journal facilitated the process of reflection. The participants gained insights into aspects of their experience through the process of making art, combining it with written text, and reflecting upon their journal entries. Additionally, they used their visual journals for case conceptualization, addressing countertransference, and stress reduction. Whereas all of the participants deemed the visual journal valuable, counseling interns had initial difficulty with visual thinking. The participants considered the combination of artmaking and responsive writing to be a particularly effective aspect of their experience.


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