Thesis Title

Art and Poetry for Stress Reduction: An Outcome Study with an Acutley Depressed Partially Hosptilalized, Adult Population

Graduation Date

Fall 1998

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


This empirical pilot study compares the scores taken before and after of men and women participating in a weekly stress management utilizing one of three different types of therapy groups. The three types are poetry therapy, open art therapy, and psychologically directed art therapy. Each subject recorded an initial stress level and an after treatment stress level on a Likert scale ranging from one to ten. The study examined the effectiveness of each type of therapy on stress. The findings suggest that there is a difference in the group’s stress levels with statistical significance found in the open art therapy directives at r=.025 while the psychologically directed art therapy was not significantly different than either the poetry or the open art therapy directives. An independent rating of all ten directives was completed with a Likert scale ranging from one to seven showing . A Pearson’s Product Moment correlation coefficient showed a strong relationship between the change score and the Art Therapy Stress Management (ATSM) scale item structure focus with a significance of pc.005 (r=.78, p=.004). After completing an interrater reliability test on the ATSM scale a factor analysis showed the directives that rated lowest on ego focus and structure hovering on or just below the factor 2 were the open art therapy directives. Results suggest, as hypothesized that the open art therapy directives (art as therapy) can be used to reduce the immediate stress of an acutely depressed population while poetry and psychologically impacted art therapy directives do not. As a pilot study this research provides an avenue from which further research in this area of art therapy and stress management can benefit.