Drawing is a Catharsis for Children
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JACOBS, J. A. (2002). Drawing is a Catharsis for Children. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved October 15, 2018
JULIE A. JACOBS
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSY
Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
|The purpose of this study is to evaluate if drawing is a catharsis for children who have been reminded of a stressful event. The experiment is to remind children of the events of September 11, 2001, and test my hypothesis that art therapy, especially drawing, is a means for children to reduce their stress. The intolerable events of war, terrorism and even natural disasters have devastating effects on children`s psyches. Art therapy enables children to express emotions, which are hard to verbalize. It is a window into children`s emotions, and prompts them to tell more than they would if they were talking. Participants in this study are a total of 40 students from fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Neely Elementary School in St. Joseph, MO. Each class was divided into four groups. Then groups A and B were cued back to September 11, 2001, and group A drew a picture while group B did not. The control groups C and D were not cued, and group C drew a picture while group D did not. A between subject factorial design was used to calculate and to examine the effects of one variable of induced stress, and a second variable of drawing a picture. The results of the anxiety test revealed that the experimental group who was able to draw had a slightly smaller rating on the anxiety test. The control groups` score had a slightly higher rating on the anxiety test. Future studies could be to look at the drawings and analyze the amount of patriotic symbols that were drawn. This study can generalize to adults and to children, in a means for them to express their emotions. One limitation of this study is that testing was not in a central place, it was conducted in the classroom and in the hallways. These findings are constant with literature findings. Implications are discussed.|
INTRODUCTIONChildren and stress: are they resilient to it? The experiment is to remind children of the events of September 11, 2001, and test my hypothesis that art therapy, especially drawing, is a means for children to reduce their stress. Stronach-Buschel (1990) explains that art therapy is described as a method of non-verbal communication, such as a child drawing a picture to express his or her emotions. Kramer (1987) states that art therapy originated from play therapy in which children talk, write, draw and act out their emotions. Pioneers of art therapy are Florence Cane, Margaret Naumburg and Henry Schaefer-Simmern, who integrated psychoanalytic theory with remedial art activities. Omizo (1988) describes the advantages of art therapy, which are: (1) it allows for direct expressions of inner experiences, (2) pictures are able to escape personal censorship, (3) and makes the therapeutic process faster. Art therapy enables children to express emotions, which are hard to verbalize.The intolerable events of war, terrorism and even natural disasters have devastating effects on children`s psyches. Myers (2002) confirms that overwhelming events can trigger physical and psychological effects on children. Many common side effects are: loss of appetite, nausea, headaches, grief, isolation, school avoidance, with drawl, and suicidal thoughts. Neiderland (1978) describes how children lack the maturity to cope effectively with the complex repercussions of disaster. Therefore measures such as art therapy, is seen as the treatment modality of choice for helping children work through their difficulties. It is a window into children`s emotions, and prompts them to tell more than they would if they were talking. Figley (1986) explains how children are then able to understand their emotions, on a deeper level, as a metaphoric expression of having control, by being able to create, erase or destroy the artwork. Myers (2002) sites Linore Terr, a psychiatrist, who has studied drawings from 911, she saw that children were expressing heightened states of fear by drawing airplanes crashing into buildings. Then the children tried to make sense of the event by discussing their picture and then tried to correct the event by drawing patriotic symbols. Naumburg (1958) states that conflicts are re-experienced, resolved and integrated through pictorial forms of thinking. Green`s (1969) discussion of the famous study of the children of Terezin, enables one to grasp the concept of how art is used to overcome the catastrophic stressor of a concentration camp. This is an extreme example but it stresses the importance of being able to use non-verbal communication to express emotions. Children of Terezin were encouraged to draw pictures and this was his or her only means of communication, and gave them a sense of psychological safety. The artwork was the traumatized children`s only means of psychological survival. Glazer (1999) describes art as having an inherent therapeutic value, which is the symbolic speech of suppressed feelings.The purpose of this study was to evaluate if drawing is a catharsis for children who have been reminded of a stressful event. I cued the children back to September 11, 2001, to see if whether drawing a picture would lower the anxiety level in the experimental groups verses the control group, which does not draw. The study did not support the hypothesis. But did show that drawing lowers anxiety compared to the students who did not draw. The scores on the anxiety test in the experimental groups had slightly lower scores compared to scores from the control group. The control group had slightly higher anxiety score because they were unable to draw, which has a cathartic effect. The cueing back to September 11, 2001, had no effect on the anxiety of the children.
METHODSParticipants Participants in this study were 40 students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Neely Elementary School in St. Joseph, MO.Materials The materials that were used to collect data are Crayola Crayons and one piece of Mead manila paper per student. A Depression Self Rating Scale was administered (see Appendix A).Procedures The experimental design that was implemented is a two way between subjects factorial design. An informed consent form was sent home with the children and 40 out of 180 were signed by the parent and returned. Students numbered off in fours, and then were divided up according to their number. Then two groups were cued back to September 11, 2001; by having them close their eyes and think back to September 11, for one minute. The first cued group A was asked to draw something for ten minutes. The second cued group B was asked to sit quietly for ten minutes. The first non-cued group C was asked to draw a picture, for ten minutes. The second non-cued D group sat quietly for ten minutes. After the ten minutes, a Depression Self Rating Scale was administered.The scale was acquired through the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, developed by Peter Birleson to evaluate anxiety in children age 9 to 14.
RESULTS A 2 (drawing) x 2 (induced stress) between subject factorial design was used to calculate and to examine the effects of one variable of drawing a picture, and a second variable of induced stress. The results of the anxiety test showed that the experimental group who has been able to draw had a slightly lower rating on the anxiety test. The control group had scored slightly higher ratings on the anxiety test. The main effect for drawing was non-significant, but was in the direction of the hypothesis (F(1, 36)= 3.1, p >.05). The main effect for whether or not being cued back to a tragic event was also not significant (F(1, 36)= .95, p >.05). Finally, the interaction was also not significant (F(1, 36) = 0, p >.05). Thus, it appears that the induced stress of a tragic event does not have and effect on their anxiety level. Drawing overall lowers anxiety in all subjects that were allowed to draw.
DISCUSSION This study was designed to see if drawing is an outlet for stress in children. The test results showed that there was not a large difference in anxiety levels between the experimental group and the control group. Geist (2001) found that teachers who encouraged drawing found that students tend to have lower anxiety levels. This indicates to me that drawing is an incredible therapeutic tool. One item I would like to test for next time is to measure anxiety before I cue the subjects back to the tragic day. Then compare the first anxiety test to the second anxiety test given after the manipulation of drawing has occurred, to control for confounding variables. Other future studies could be to look at the drawings and analyze the amount of patriotic symbols that were drawn. One limitation of this study is that testing was not in a central place, it was conducted in the classroom and in the hallways. This study was also limited on subjects and I feel if there were more subjects, the hypothesis would have been supported. I also feel that after reviewing the results that the cue was not sufficient enough to cause the anxiety I chose to measure. The next time I would use a picture or video of September 11, 2001, instead of verbal cueing. This study could be generalized to adults and children that drawing could be their medium of choice to express their emotions, and lower anxiety. Brenkman (1999) found that Art therapy is becoming a popular tool to work with children.
REFERENCESBrenkman, J. (1999). Separation and creativity: Redefining the lost language of childhood. New York: Other Press.Figley, C.R. (1986). Trauma and its wake. New York: Brunner and Mazel.Geist, A. L. (2001). They still draw picture. New York: Berkley Publishing.Glazer, H.R. (1999). Children and play in the Holocaust. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 37, 194-200.Green, G. (1969). The artists of Terezin. New York: Hawthorn Books.Johnson, D.R. (1987). The role of the creative art therapies in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological trauma. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 14, 7-13.Kramer, E. (1987). Art as therapy with children. New York: Schocken Books.Myers, B. (2002). Helping children cope with disaster. Washington, DC: National Institute of Mental Health Association.Naumburg, M. (1958). Art therapy: Its scope and function in the clinical application of projective drawings. New York: Grune and Stratton.Neiderland, W.G. (1976). Psychoanalytic approaches to artistic creativity. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 45, 185-212.Omizo, M.M. (1988). Intervention through art. Academic Therapy, 24, 103-106.Stronach-Buschel, B. (1990). Art therapy for children: Post-traumatic stress disorder in children. American Journal of Art Therapy, 29, 48-52.
APPENDIX ADepression Self Rating ScaleCircle the answer that best describes you
1. I look forword to things as much as I used to True False2. I find it very hard to keep my mind on my schoolwork True False3. I get very tired True False4. I find it very hard to sit still True False5. I feel like crying True False6. I feel like running away True False7. I get tummy aches True False8. I like to go out and play True False9. I sleep very well True False10. I worry about going to school True False11. I worry about my parents True False12. I think other children don`t like me True False13. I think other children talk about me True False14. I have lots of energy True False15. I am afraid of many things True False16. I get very angry with people True False17. I enjoy my food True False18. I can stick up for myself True False19. I blame myself for a lot of things True False20. I think life is not worth living True False21. I skip school True False22. I am good at things I do True False23. I worry about death and dying True False24. I get frightened in the dark True False25. I enjoy the things I do as much as I used to True False26. I like talking with my family True False27. I get headaches True False28. I feel as though I am a bad person True False29. I am moody and bad tempered True False30. I prefer to be on my own True False31. I have horrible dreams True False32. I find myself having to check things again and again True False33. I feel very lonely True False34. I find that I fight with people more than I used to True False35. I am easily cheered up True False36. I feel so sad that I can hardly stand it True False37.I feel very bored True False
Submitted 11/21/2002 2:21:35 PM
Last Edited 11/21/2002 3:14:12 PM
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