Week 2: Expanding my Art Therapy Scope

Mar 18, 2021

This week I have been focused on learning more about the field of art therapy and brainstorming an art activity that I can use with the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th grade students at BASIS Independent Mclean. 

So far with my journey of designing my own project I have also been planning what I hope my end product will include. Last week I briefly mentioned the survey I am designing, which will be given before and after the art activity, and will serve as a means to record the effectiveness of art therapy. The survey is designed after an emotion thermometer from 1-5, 1 describing feelings of happiness or satisfaction, and 5 being feelings of rage or ferocity. My results would include the numbers from before and after the art activity, which could be plotted in a line graph to show changes in emotions after the art activity. 

photo courtesy of ABAcadabra, Teachers Pay Teachers


What is Art Therapy?

The Art Therapy Sourcebook by Cathy A. Malchiodi has begun to give me more information on the field. So far I have learned that art therapy can be used on a wide variety of age groups and a variety of issues. The effectiveness based on certain age groups is one aspect I am analyzing in this project. Malchiodi describes the definition of art therapy as an understanding of psychology and art. 

Aspects of the visual arts, the creative process, human development, behavior, personality, and mental health, among others, are important to the definitions and scope of art therapy.”

How Will We “Do” Art Therapy?

I have really appreciated my support so far along this journey especially from the Edinboro University Art Therapy Open Studio leader, Sara Osman, from whom I have learned different art therapy techniques and how emotions can be expressed through art. She helped me to develop an idea for my art activity with a 3D origami box. Inside the box students can put a slip of paper with their various emotions and feelings in it. The slip of paper can be taken out of the box and represent a catharsis and release of emotions. 

Another suggestion for an art activity is by Dr. McFarland, a member of the American Art Therapy Association, who has been helpful in suggesting sources and advice. She suggests something that would encourage relaxation and positive feelings, such as creating an image that shows their favorite place where they feel happy and safe, and the senses involved with this place.

Lastly, my senior project advisor, Ms. Fors, has been very helpful in guiding me along my journey and giving me advice. Hopefully next week I will have a clearer idea on how I would like my art activity to look. Thank you for reading! 🙂 


7 Replies to “Week 2: Expanding my Art Therapy Scope”

  1. Sean P. says:

    Wow Maria, this sounds so exciting! It’s great to see that you are getting advice and ideas from multiple sources. I always found “Art Therapy” to be a vague term. Yes, it is very evident that it means therapy using art; however, what it actually entails is something that I believe many are unfamiliar with. I look forward to seeing how you go about your Senior Project in the coming weeks. Keep up the good work!

    1. Maria T. says:

      That’s a really good point! Thank you Sean!

  2. Ria K. says:

    I love the idea of the survey and how you get to see the exact effect of art therapy on emotion. That is really cool. I also love how you are getting inspiration from different places. I am excited to see the results of your experiment.

    1. Maria T. says:

      I am also excited about it! Can’t wait to keep you updated.

  3. Leo L. says:

    Hi Maria, your work looks really fun and useful! I can’t wait to see the results of the survey and your analysis. Keep it up!

    1. Maria T. says:

      Thank you for the support Leo : ) !

  4. Eric M. says:

    Exciting developments! In your future endeavors, would you consider art therapy to be a science/pseudo-science? I’m just wondering if there’s any standard or metric by which you can analyze and interpret your results.

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