Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lahnna Catalino

Reader 2

Theodore Bartholomew

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For decades, art therapists have been assisting individuals and communities with addressing a diverse range of issues and needs through the process of creative expression. More recently, research has been coming to light about the intersection of art therapy and positive psychology, a field coined “positive art therapy”, in which the focus of therapy revolves around recognizing and engaging with one’s positive emotions, traits, and behaviors rather than around examining and attempting to alleviate distress. The purpose of the present study is to examine the effects of two kinds of art therapy on levels of stress and self-efficacy: art therapy in which negativity is attended to, and art therapy in which positivity is attended to. The population of interest is college students, a group of people who face a unique set of social and academic circumstances that have the ability to negatively impact mental wellbeing. In an experimental research design, a total of 390 undergraduate participants will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions: “negative group art therapy” or “positive group art therapy”. In groups of 15, participants will either be prompted to reflect upon and create artwork about recent emotionally positive experiences (positive group art therapy) or recent emotionally negative experiences (negative group art therapy). It is predicted that while both conditions will experience decreases in stress and increases in self-efficacy, the effects will be larger for the positive art therapy condition.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.