A Heuristic Study on the Effects of Art Therapy and Essential Oil Diffuser for Treating Academic Stress and Test Anxiety

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Araos, Danielle
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The following study investigated the efficacy of art therapy using clay and an essential oil diffuser for treating academic stress and anxiety symptoms. The participant-researcher engaged in a comparison approach to determine whether applying a diffuser with clay would provide a greater reduction of stress than mainly using clay itself. Moreover, the art tasks were based on the six Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC) components. A heuristic research design was utilized that incorporated visual journaling, along with pre and posttest administrations of the Student Stress Inventory (SSI) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Results of this study indicated six overarching themes related to the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC) components including (a) Kinesthetic, (b) Sensory, (c) Perceptual, (d) Affective, (e) Cognitive, and (f) Symbolic. Each theme also consisted of subthemes related to the participant-researcher’s observations and experiences. Analysis of the SSI and PSS scores revealed that there was no significant difference between the clay and the clay with diffuser sessions in terms of participant stress reduction. However, the participant-researcher reported a reduction in stress levels with each of the ETC components showcasing mixed responses. Future studies were recommended.