Art Therapy in High School



This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.


I’ve always been interested in how the mind functions. When my school began offering Global Online Academy classes, Abnormal Psychology was an obvious choice for me. My favorite unit from this term was Unit 3 where we explored stress, anxiety, and major depression. Personally, I’ve suffered from stress and moderate anxiety all of my life. School is one of the most common triggers for stress among teenagers, and I personally feel like every action my school makes towards decreasing stress is reactive instead of proactive. After researching more about stress among teenagers specifically, I began to wonder how schools could change their perspective on stress. I chose to focus on art therapy as a proactive method because I know many people, myself included, who find doodling relaxing. Whether it be in one of the adult relaxation coloring books which have recently become really popular or on the corners of my note book, I doodle to relieve stress. 



Here are two examples of my own doodles.





Think about this: How often did you do arts and crafts in lower school? Middle school? High school? The use of art in the classroom dramatically decreases once we reach high school. Why? I can’t tell you! I literally do not know the answer, and it seems like no one else knows either. There are millions of articles about the psychological benefits of art in elementary school classrooms, but its radio silent when you try to find information on crafts in high school.

Stress among high schoolers is no new subject. A study in 2014 showed that 52% of teenagers consistently rate their stress a 6 out of 10 during the school year (2). Students can feel exhausted and overwhelmed by school which could lead to decreased appetite, exercise, and sleep. Essentially, teenagers are experiencing a fatal snowball effect, but how do we stop it?


I also wanted to ask the students of my school about stress and doodles to get a clearer perspective on Louisville Collegiate School’s experience with stress and doodling.


I conducted an art therapy exercise on real high schoolers to see how they would react to an art therapy session so I could get their opinions on if they believe art could be helpful in classrooms. I wanted to do this exercise because most high schoolers have not explicitly participated in art therapy, so before asking them if they think art therapy in class would be helpful, I thought they should have a little preview of what it is like to get an insight into your mind through art. 


My next steps in this process will be sharing and presenting my presentation to the Head of the Upper School at Louisville Collegiate School. His optimism towards helping our school led me to believe that he is the best person to present my ideas to to catalyze a change within my school. While I may not be able to speak to every teacher in the world about the benefits of arts and crafts, I encourage you to ask your teachers to try at least one class with art and see the benefits for themselves. I also wanted to include a quiz I made about what type of art therapy you could use on your own to help relax.

Below, I’ve created a survey for feedback, questions, etc. about my project. I encourage you to use GOA’s Design Thinking method of beginning your feedback with “What if…? How might we….? and I wonder….” Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.


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