Thesis Title

Stress Management, Relaxation Techniques and Free Drawings with Elementary School Children

Graduation Date

Spring 1985

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


Why should children in our enlightened, affluent, and technologically advanced society develop and suffer from the ill effects of stress? The answers to this question are as complex and varied as the individual, their family struc­ture, their community, and their environment. The purpose of this work suggests a beginning: to teach children body awareness, unstressing, relaxation techniques in conjunction with free drawing in the elementary school classroom, enhancing their interdisciplinary learning process. Due to the nature of the school and the cooperation of the teacher, the program developed, continuing over a two-school-year period as part of the daily curriculum of the kindergarten- first grade class. The children were taught many varied relaxation techniques, usually ending with free drawing.

The individual abilities of the children varied. As a whole they showed a marked increase in body awareness, coordina­tion, and coping skills during the school day. They learned to quiet themselves automatically. Many parents reported that the children were practicing the relaxation techniques at home. Several students reported using some of the techniques before sleep and when they were "upset". Due to the informal nature of this work, it becomes best to refrain from overall conclusions and premature assessments. Subjec­tive results observed, however, indicate with growth and development; stress reduction, body awareness, and free fantasy drawing can provide young people with usable skills for coping and living a more self-accepting healthy life.