Inside Out: Influence of Art Making in Nature on Anxiety

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Rosado Russell, Leticia
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
Anxiety is the leading concern of college students seeking counseling services nationally. New service approaches are needed to address, help prevent, and avert this growing mental health crisis. The researcher conducted a study the week before exams to establish the effectiveness of eco-art therapy to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Fifteen students were randomly assigned to one of four groups for 30-minutes: art making indoors, sitting quietly indoors art making outside, or sitting quietly outside. Participants in art making open studio conditions had free choice to color a mandala, draw a still life, paint, create a collage, or work with clay. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) were administered to participants before the intervention, and the STAI State (STAI-S) and PANAS after, and again 48 hours post-intervention. Analysis of the art created, scoring of assessments, and coding of open-ended questions and transcripts of the debrief, indicated art making in nature reduced anxiety, strengthened nature connectedness, and fostered new insights. The benefits of eco-art therapy to reduce anxiety symptoms were discussed.