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УДК 159.9.072:371 Maria Katarzyna GRZEGORZEWSKA,
Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology,
Faculty of Humanities,
AGH University of Science аnd Technology,
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ART THERAPY ACCORDING
У статті розглядається один із методів зниження стресу, зокрема за рахунок зменшення психічної напруженості та звільнення від негативних емоцій, – арт-терапія. Представлено аналіз результатів дослідження, в якому взяли участь студенти, що навчаються на педагогічних спеціальностях університету Humanitas (м. Сосновець), а також студенти, які вивчають технічні науки в Університеті науки і технології AGH (м. Краків), але в майбутньому працюватимуть педагогами. Отримані результати засвідчили виняткову складність інтерпретацій, пов’язаних із використанням методик терапії мистецтвом із метою зниження стресу. Завдяки отриманим результатам було зроблено висновки стосовно форм арт-терапії, яким надають перевагу досліджувані особи, а також отримано інформацію щодо їх ефективності залежно від певних характеристик досліджуваних, наприклад, статі.
Ключові слова: арт-терапія, рівень стресу, стосунки в групі, форми арт-терапії.
В статье рассматривается один из методов снижения стресса, в частности за счет уменьшения психической напряженности и освобождения от негативных эмоций, – арт-терапия. Анализируются результаты исследования, в котором приняли участие студенты, обучающиеся на педагогических специальностях университета Humanitas (г. Сосновец), а также студенты, которые изучают технические науки в Университете науки и технологии AGH (г. Краков), но в будущем также будут работать педагогами. Полученные результаты показали исключительную сложность интерпретаций, связанных с использованием методик терапии искусством с целью снижения стресса. Благодаря исследованию были сделаны выводы о формах арт-терапии, предпочитаемых исследуемыми лицами, а также получена информация об их эффективности в зависимости от некорорых характеристик испытуемых, например, пола.
Ключевые слова: арт-терапия, уровень стресса, отношения в группе, формы арт-терапии.
In this publication, art therapy is understood as one of the most effective ways of reducing stress, inter alia by reducing tension and releasing negative emotions. The article analyses the results of survey conducted on the total number of 218 students, representing technical faculties of the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy (AGH) in Kraków, and students of the humanities (Pedagogy) at the Humanitas University in Sosnowiec respectively (future teachers). The results obtained showed the complexity of interpretations related to art therapy as a means of reducing stress levels. Furthermore, the research made it possible to formulate conclusions concerning the forms of art therapy preferred by respondents and the impact of other variables (e.g. sex) on the results. What is interesting, as compared to the male respondents, the female students were more convinced about the effectiveness of art therapy and presented a variety of ideas related to its practical application.
Key words: art therapy, stress levels, relationships in the group, forms of art therapy.
The simplest definition of art therapy has been introduced by Henryk Grzegorzewski, describing it as a therapy through art, focusing on the use of art by adults and children .
The use of art therapy. This method can be widely used in different areas. In education it helps to expand the horizons of pupils and their comprehensive development, especially in terms of emotional maturation. Its recreational function makes it easy to take a break from everyday life and to relax. According to Professor Dykcik art therapy is “(...) a system of actions aimed at education, recreation, prevention and correction of disorders regardless of age, location and quality of life" .
In summary, art therapy is a conscious use of widely understood creativity for healing purposes, and particularly to reduce the level of tension and stress through the use of various types of techniques related to the broad spectrum of art.
Description of the research. The aim of this study was to obtain knowledge of the perception of art therapy by students as a method of preventing high levels of stress. The results of surveys, which was conducted on a group of students of technical faculties at the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy (AGH) in Kraków and students of the humanities (Pedagogy) at the Humanitas University in Sosnowiec, show the diversity of interpretations of the phenomenon of art therapy and makes it possible to take a look at how this method is perceived by Polish society – in this case by a group of young people.
The results presented below come from my own research, conducted on 218 students in November, in the academic year 2014-2015.
Characteristics of survey participants. The first part of the results here are based on the technical students representing various fields of study at the AGH University of Mining and Metallurgy, and the second part – the humanities students, i.e. Pedagogy students of the Humanitas University in Sosnowiec . Both groups are trained to become teachers.
Gender and age of respondents. The surveys started with demographic questions. In the group of 218 students, women accounted for 26% of all respondents, and men for 74%. Most of the respondents were first year students. They were mostly studying Mechanical Engineering (MiBM), and the least number of students came from Production Engineering.
The age of respondents ranges from 18 to 21. Most respondents, as many as 81%, were students at the age of 19, 8% of students aged 20, 6% – 18 and only 1% – 21.The majority, as many as 74% of survey respondents were men and only 26% were women. The study included students of various technical faculties at AGH: Mechanical Engineering (MiBM), Energetics, Teleinformatics, Automation and Robotics (AiR), Mechanical Engineering and Material Handling (IMIM), Chemical Technology, Electrical Engineering, Production Engineering. Most of the students came from Mechanical Engineering (MiBM), and the smallest group was from Production Engineering. The first request of the survey was to select the art forms which students associate with art therapy.
Most of them have chosen music (30%) whereas dancing and painting took respectively second and third place. The least common answers concerned sculpture with 11% and cinema at 8%. When looking at the answers from female students, it turned out that 28% of them associate music with art therapy. In the second place there was dance (23%), followed by painting with 19%, then theater – 15%, cinema – 8% and sculpture – 7%. Similar to the answers from women, 30% of men associate music with the art therapy, the second place took painting (20%), followed by dancing (14%) on a par with theater (also 14%), then sculpture (13%) and cinema (8%, same percentage as by female students).
Then students were asked about the key aspect of this study, which is if they think that art therapy is important in reducing stress levels. The results have shown that the majority of respondents (67%) consider art therapy to be an important factor in reducing stress. It concerns the vast majority of female students (96%) and only 57% of male students, who approached the effectiveness of art therapy in reducing stress levels with greater distance. 18% of men do not believe in the effectiveness of the art therapy.
The most commonly used form of art therapy is listening to music. In music therapy, meaning relaxing through music, there are two types of therapies – active and receptive. Receptive music therapy is based mainly on listening to different songs and sounds which may be activating or relaxing. This form of therapy is used by up to 55% of respondents.
In contrast, active music therapy is literally playing instruments. This form of therapy is used by 4% of respondents. This method is often accompanied by choreotherapy, also called movement therapy. Dancing, music and movement exercises as well as improvised movement are the main elements of this therapy. 10% of respondents use dancing. The same percentage marked cinema as a way of relaxation. Drawing - just the same as theater – gained 7%. Painting, understood as admiring paintings, which is a receptive form of art therapy, is preferred to a lesser extent (4%) than drawing (active art therapy through fine arts – 7%).
More than half of female students (58%) say that they have not used art therapy which is still much less than 86% in case of male students.
Another question was: "Would you like, as a student, to attend art therapy classes?" 54% of female students would like to attend art therapy classes, 25% would not want to and 21% have no opinion on this subject. Male students have a completely different approach to art therapy. 42% of them did not wish to attend art therapy classes. 33% of respondents had no opinion on this subject, and only 25% (compared to women) would like to have such classes.
The next question in the survey was: "What forms of artistic expression are relaxing for you?" The respondents had to make a choice between the following answers: dancing, music, cinema, theater, sculpture, painting or enter other forms of expression. Respondents most frequently chose music (41%), followed by movies (22%), dancing (14%) and theater (12%) as a form of artistic expression relaxing them best. Sculpture was chosen by the lowest number of respondents (2%). These results looked pretty similar when split between men and women. Both groups prefer music as the most relaxing art form. Painting and sculpture were least popular.
The survey included also a question, if according to students, co-creation has a positive influence on improving relations in a group. 74% of respondents believe that co-creation has a positive influence on improving relations in a group and 18% have no opinion on this subject, while 8% of respondents do not see a correlation between co-creation and improvement of the relations in the group.
When looking at women and men separately, the results show that the majority of women (84%) strongly believe that co-creation has an impact on improved relations in a group. 12% of female students have the opposite opinion, and 4% have no opinion. When it comes to men, 70% of them believe that co-creation improves relations in a group and only 7% have the opposite opinion.
The last question addressed to male and female students was: "Do you have an idea of how to more widely use and promote art therapy as an effective method of reducing stress?"
Analysis of the survey results shows that only 26% of respondents in the surveyed group have an idea for a wider use and propagation of art therapy. As many as 74% of respondents have no opinion on this subject.
The distribution of results indicates that only 40% of women have an idea for wider use and propagation of art therapy as an effective method to reduce stress. But it's still a higher percentage in comparison to the group of men, where only 18% of respondents have such ideas.
Importance of art therapy in reducing the level of stress according to humanities students (future teachers).
All participants of the survey, the results of which are described below, are students of pedagogy – 85% in the first year and 15% in the second year of their study. The majority, as many as 81% of survey respondents, were women and only 19% were men. The age of female respondents ranges between 19 and 45 years and most of them were the age of 24-35. In case of men, majority of male students were at the age of 19-24 (60%).
The first request of the survey was to select the art forms which students associate with art therapy. Most students have chosen music (23%). Painting and dancing took respectively second and third place. The least common were theater with 13% and sculpture with the same result.
When it comes to the differentiation between female and male students, the preferences for different art forms are distributed pretty similarly. Both groups have chosen music as the leader (23% and 24%). Sculpture and theater were chosen the least.
Then students were asked about the key aspect of this study, which is if they think that art therapy is important in reducing the stress levels. The vast majority of respondents (94%) considered art therapy to be an important factor in minimizing stress. All women were convinced about it, but in case of men, the answers were diversified: 60% consider art therapy to be an effective form of stress reduction, which is a much lower number than in the case of women. 20% of men do not believe in the ability of art therapy to reduce stress.
The third question of the survey was as follows: Have you used art therapy before? The majority of respondents answered “No”. Some of them however have used art therapy and music was among the most frequently chosen art forms. 35% of women declared that they have used music as art therapy. Dancing, painting and drawing were chosen respectively by 15% of them, followed by cinema and theater with the result of 10% each. As for surveyed men, they mostly had no experience with art therapy either. Two of the participants have used art therapy but they did not mention any specific art form.
The next question in the survey concerned the willingness of the respondents to attend art therapy classes. The combined results from male and female students show that 78% of them declared willingness to attend art therapy classes. Only 15% of respondents weren’t interested in it. When it comes to female students only, 81% would like to attend art therapy classes and 14% didn’t want it. In case of men these numbers were 67% and 16% respectively.
Another question in the survey related to forms of artistic expressions, which have a relaxing effect on respondents. When looking at all respondents, music is the leader with 31%, followed by cinema with 22% and dancing – 15%. Sculpture was chosen by the least number of students (4%). Both women and men chose music as the art form which brings them the best relaxation (32% and 30%) followed by cinema with 22% each. Sculpture was the least popular art form with 4% of respondents – none of the men chose this art form.
Another question in the survey related to the impact of co-creation on improving relations in a group. When looking at all respondents together, 85% of them are convinced that co-creation is very important when it comes to improving relations within a group of people and only 15% of them don’t believe in such a correlation. Results from men and women separately are pretty similar, there was only a slightly bigger group of surveyed men who didn’t have any opinion on this subject (20%) in comparison to women (14%).
The last question of the survey concerned ideas for wider use and the promotion of art therapy as an effective method of reducing stress. The vast majority of surveyed men and women stated that they did not have any opinion or any idea for the wider use of art therapy. Some of the ideas given by respondents were for example about introducing art therapy in schools, hospitals and kindergarten. There was also a suggestion to promote art therapy through social media.
Conclusions from the surveys. Information collected in the above mentioned surveys relating to the approach of students to art therapy, shows that art therapy can be a great tool for achieving relaxation and the effect of "boosting energy" among students. It also proves that this method is still little known in this social group.
These results also clearly show the need for a wider propagation of art therapy among students. They have learned that art therapy, conducted in a way of fun and in a joyful atmosphere, enables the achievement of very good results when it comes to lowering stress levels. The majority of respondents (67%) considered art therapy to be an important factor in reducing stress.
When it comes to the question about which of the art forms are mostly associated with art therapy, the majority of students marked music (30%), followed by dancing and painting. The least chosen art forms were sculpture (11%) and cinema (8%).
In music therapy, meaning relaxing through music, there are two types of therapies – receptive and active. Receptive music therapy is based mainly on listening to different songs and activating and relaxing sounds. This form of therapy is used by up to 55% of respondents.
In contrast, active music therapy (which is “literally playing instruments”) is used by 4% of respondents. This method is often accompanied by choreotherapy, also called movement therapy. Dancing, music and movement exercises as well as improvised movement to music are the main elements of this therapy.
10% of respondents use dancing. The same percentage of students marked cinema as a way to relax. Theatre was chosen by 7% of students and drawing (just like theater) accounted for 7% of the responses.
74% of respondents believed that co-creation has an influence on improving relations in a group, 18% had no opinion, while 8% did not see a correlation between co-creation and improvement of the relations in a group.
Gender as a variable affecting the results of research. A great deal of data on human cognitive functions suggests that gender differences play an extremely important role influencing the results of research. The evidence of differences in the cognitive abilities between men and women tend to be fairly clear [1; 11; 12; 14; 15]. There are opinions situating the reasons for observed differences not only in differing functional asymmetry of the cerebral hemispheres but more in the use of different cognitive styles or strategies for accomplishing various tasks [3; 7; 8, p. 73-99].
In the conducted surveys both similarities and differences in the approach to the phenomenon of "art therapy" was visible in the surveyed women and men. There was no significant statistical difference when it comes to associating various art forms with art therapy. 30% of male students associate music with art therapy in first place (the same as female students), then - painting (20%), followed by dancing and theater (both 14%), then sculpture (13%) and cinema (8%, the same percentage as the female students).
Significant differences appeared however in the approach to the effectiveness of art therapy in reducing stress. Additionally male respondents showed a much bigger distance to the effectiveness of art therapy in reducing stress. Only 57% of them were sure about the effectiveness of this method, which is a very low result compared to women – as many as 96% of female respondents, almost all of the surveyed women, believe in a positive impact from art therapy.
Differences appeared also in declaring a willingness to join art therapy classes. The above research shows that 54% of female students would like to take part in art therapy classes, 25% would not be interested in it and 21% have no opinion. Male students have a completely different approach to art therapy classes, as only 25% of them would like to have such classes, whereas 42% weren’t interested in art therapy classes, and 33% did not have an opinion on this subject.
As many as 84% of surveyed women strongly believe that co-creation has a positive influence on improving relations in a group, 12% think the opposite, and only 4% have no opinion on this subject.
70% of men believe that the co-creation has an influence on improving relations in a group. Only 7% have the opposite opinion, while 23% have no opinion on this subject. According to the results of this research, as many as 82% of men do not have an idea for a the wider use and propagation of art therapy as an effective method to reduce stress. A further breakdown of the results indicates that only 40% of women have ideas on how to more widely use and promote art therapy as an effective method to reduce stress, but it's still a higher percentage in comparison to the group of men, where only 18% of respondents have such ideas.
The survey carried out among the technical students (the future teachers) show that only a small percentage of them has an idea of vaster use and promotion of art therapy as an effective method of coping with stress. On the other hand, the humanities (Pedagogy) students proposed introduction of art therapy to schools, hospitals and kindergartens. Seventeen respondents were for this solution. However, none of them provided any concrete ideas as to the implementation of art therapy. Three persons suggested promotion of art therapy in social media. Women manifested greater creativity.
Conclusions. It is generally known that there are numerous and differentiated ways of coping with stress. In their everyday work, teachers are threatened with various types of stress. On the one hand, they are subject to evaluation procedures and control from the side of their superiors, on the other they are under pressure of students and their parents. In the school, they concentrate mainly on cognitive processes of their pupils. They should relieve the school stress in different ways, for instance reading books, and involving themselves in creative processes which are beneficial to the human psyche.
The results of the survey indicate that art therapy constitutes one of the most effective ways to decrease the level of stress through, among others, a decrease in tension and release of negative emotions. The above results showed the diversity of interpretations related to art therapy and made it possible to formulate conclusions concerning the attitude of students (future teachers) towards art therapy as a means of diminishing the level of stress.
It is worthwhile remembering that: ”Art constitutes an attempt at finding the meaning and purpose of life on the way of one’s personal development. With its help, we tame fears, anxieties or stress. The vast range of artistic techniques make it possible to locate the problem, name it, understand and defeat. Through acts of creation man better knows himself, his values and needs, his ways of perceiving the world and other humans. Creativity is a veiled reflection of such discoveries” [10, s. 88].
Art therapy is crucial for emotional development, particularly in the teacher profession, in which the emotional balance is indispensable. Furthermore, art therapy enriches imagination which enables the teacher act creatively. Therefore teachers should supplement their list of ways of coping with stress with this method. There are numerous art therapy techniques that can be considered, related to graphics, drawing, painting, sculpture, applied art (photography, posters), decorative art, music, film, choreography.
Art therapy can be beneficial both to teachers and their students. Therefore it is important that teachers should present their students with this method showing them its effectiveness in reducing and eliminating tensions.
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