Research Methodology – Lecture II: Art Therapy Research, Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams

Available for groups on request

In this lecture, a review is provided of the creative art therapy methods that are applied in research. Grounded theory research methodology, which was applied when analysing the data in art therapy research, is also introduced.

The research aim was to design, study and test a therapeutic method that could facilitate coursework learning and enhance the emotional well-being in the population selected for the study. Through the research a therapeutic method named ‘art educational therapy’ (AET), emerged.

Creativity is integral to both the art therapeutic process and to grounded theory. Drawn diagrams, which comprise part of the grounded theory method, are visual representations that depict ideas in the form of charts, diagrams and drawn images. The subject of drawn diagrams and the ways they relate to art therapy research is discussed in the lecture. Arrows, rectangles, circles, connecting lines, words and pictures are drawn in the diagrams and thus render invisible content and contexts visible. Drawing diagrams stimulates creative and abstract thinking as well as conceptualization. Images that are applied to gain a deeper understanding of concepts and phenomena and to process emotions are also covered in the lecture. Research requires resilience to uncertainty and the drawn diagrams can facilitate a space where uncertainty can become more easily tolerated.

Lectures held before

2016 Art Therapy Research, Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams. Embodied eyes: Contemporary arts therapies. Nordic Art Therapy Seminar, Helsinki, Finland.

2014 Grounded Theory: Research in Art Therapy and Drawn Diagrams. Paper given to art therapy students, University of Hertfordshire, England.


Ottarsdottir, U. 2013 Grunduð kenning og teiknaðar skýringarmyndir. (Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams). In: Sigríður Halldórsdóttir (Ed.), Handbók í aðferðafræði rannsókna (e. Handbook of Research Methodology) (pp. 361-375). Akureyri: University of Akureyri.

Ottarsdottir, U. 2018 Art therapy to Address Emotional Well-being of Children who have Experienced Stress and/or Trauma. In: A. Zubala & V. Karkou (Eds.), Arts Therapies in the Treatment of Depression: International Research in the Arts Therapies (pp. 30-47). Oxford: Routledge.

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