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The Effectiveness of Art Therapy and Guided Imagery in Reducing the Stress of 3rd Year and 4th Year Bs Psychology Students Sy 2006-2007

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Chapter I

The Problem and Its Background

Introduction

Stress is considered as one of the main reasons for the majority of school problems nowadays. The most frequent cause of stress in school is concern about academic performance and everything that goes with it, such as studying for exams, meeting the deadlines, maintaining average or excellent class standing, and getting high grades. In accomplishing all these, the student must exert a lot of effort. He must stay up late to finish his requirements, and review for his exams or even for graded recitations during discussions in class. Although there are some cases wherein school stress does not come from trying to get good grades, for some, it is the lack of motivation to study hard. This lack of motivation to study hard results to anxiety and worrying: whether the student will be able to pass his subjects or not. Consequently, the anxiety becomes the cause of stress. Eventually, the stress will manifest itself in the failing health of the student, who feels and appears weary and fatigued. When this happens, either the student can no longer stand to exert more effort, or can be least motivated to study hard. Thus, the stress must at least be reduced, if not completely alleviated.

Art Therapy and Guided Imagery are some of the techniques of easing the stress and promoting a sense of peace and tranquility for students at a stressful time in school. In Art Therapy, students may express and understand their emotions, or convey their weariness through artistic expression. This creative activity elicits positive affect due to altered biological conditions. Likewise, Guided Imagery has been shown to promote wellness and optimize health. It operates in the mind-body principle, using oneЎЇs thoughts and imagination to heal oneЎЇs self, and to feel a lot better. Furthermore, Guided Imagery serves as a communication between the imagined healing and the actual healing of the body, thus resulting to improved health. Both techniques were proven effective in their respective domains for various individuals who have distinct problems and conditions, and in this study, Art Therapy and Guided Imagery were used as alternative remedies for stress caused by academic requirements.

Theoretical Framework

This study was based on Art Therapy, which is anchored in the Psychoanalytic Theory of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung; and on Guided Imagery, which operates in the mind-body principle and is also founded on Carl JungЎЇs idea on the ÐŽoactive imagination.ÐŽ±

Art Therapy practice has a knowledge base grounded in theories of personality, human development, psychology, family systems and art education. Because creativity and psychotherapy are both about change and transformation, they can enhance one anotherЎЇs effectiveness. Margaret Naumberg was the pioneer of Art Therapy. The ideas of Jung, Freud and the circle of psychoanalytic thinkers of her time influenced her. Using their theories she came to view art making as a technique equal to verbal therapy in its natural evocative power to unlock repressed material. Naumberg believed that the process of art therapy is based on the recognition that a personЎЇs most fundamental thoughts and feelings derived from the unconscious reach expression in images rather than in words. When symbolic aspects of imagery, as well as verbal and cognitive aspects of the experience are part of an art therapy session, an integrative and healing opportunity is possible (Center for Health and Healing, 2005). Art Therapy encourages people to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and through the creative process. Usually, the product or the end-result of the artistic work is not very important. What is important is how the client feels while he is creating his work of art, and after he has finished creating it. As an intervention, art therapy can help the client take his mind off the different stressors he experiences for the moment. Moreover, creating something aesthetic can give him a sense of worth, which in turn can make him feel better and more energetic to continue doing whatever it is he has to do.

Furthermore, Guided Imagery, which operates in the mind-body principle, has its roots on ancient healings and on the ideas of diverse proponents such as Rene Descartes, Anton Mesmer, Carl Simonton, Stephanie Simonton, and even Carl Jung. Carl Jung believed that imagery was as close to the unconscious as one could get, or that it may even be the unconscious mind directly revealing itself. Jung employed a method he called ÐŽoactive imaginationÐŽ± as a means of gaining insight into his clientЎЇs unconscious process. He would invite his patients to relax and focus their attention on their symptoms and describe the images that came to mind. He reported that ÐŽoat first, the client tends to watch the images with some fascination, as if at the theater, but sooner or later it dawns on them that they are being addressed by something intelligent.ÐŽ± (Bresler, Rossman, 2003) Guided Imagery, as a therapeutic technique, focuses the power of the mind on some aspect of the workings of the body in order to cause real, positive physical response. It may be used to relieve stress, explore psychological conflicts, and manage pain. Similarly, as an intervention, it can literally take the clientЎЇs mind off the stressors. It helps the client change or regulate his bodyЎЇs current state when he imagines his systems to be working well and accordingly, thus results to reduced stress.

Conceptual Framework

Independent Variables Dependent Variable

Figure 1. Conceptual Framework of the Study

The figure shows the different variables used in the study. The independent variables were the Art Therapy and Guided Imagery, which the researchers used to reduce or alleviate the stress of 3rd year and 4th year BS Psychology students, who were found to be moderately and severely stressed, and were divided into Experimental Group 1 and Experimental Group 2. The dependent variable, which the researchers aimed to reduce or alleviate, was the stress level of the participants in the two groups. The stress level could either be increased or reduced depending on the results of the interventions.

Statement of the Problem

This study was conducted to distinguish the effectiveness of Art Therapy and Guided Imagery in reducing or alleviating the stress of nineteen (19) 3rd year and 4th year BS Psychology students

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