After an entire year's worth (but more like a culmination of my 4 year's at Endicott...) of blood, sweat, tears, so many emotions, many margaritas, and endless researching, writing, reflecting and OF COURSE painting, my senior thesis is officially complete and passed in! Although it is something that I could probably edit and add to for the rest of my life I am quite proud of this accomplishment and every one of the 58 pages it is made up of.
What is thesis you may ask???
Well, at Endicott College every student must complete a thesis paper by the end of their senior year. This includes intense research on a desired topic of the student's choice with many, many, MANY sources, the writing of a literature review, and then a research study of sorts. As an art therapy major, I focused on the topic of anxiety disorders in adolescents and emerging adults (college age students like myself) and how through art therapy and the cultivation of identity in the art making process, someone of this population could benefit greatly while on the path to recovery. I performed arts based research for my study and generated a total of 5 large scale oil paintings that I am very excited to share with the world very soon!
Here is a little more in depth on my thesis:
THE ANXIOUS MIND: A Creative and Introspective into Anxiety Disorders and Recovery Through Identity Cultivation and the Art Making Process
"This thesis will explore the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the populations of adolescents and emerging adults. This thesis will recognize its presence as the most common mental health disorder for those 18 and older in the United States (Queen & Ehrenreich-May, 2014). While including research on the significance of identity development in these populations, the concept of cultivating one’s identity through the vehicles of art therapy and mindfulness will be investigated as a healing process for those with anxiety disorders.
The purpose of this thesis is to delve into both the psychology and art therapy fields while educating the reader on the various treatment options for anxiety disorders in adolescents and emerging adults. It also highlights the important developmental factor of cultivating an identity through creative means in order to be the best version of the self. The goal of this research is for the audience to recognize that through creative processes and mindfulness the adolescent and emerging adult population with anxiety disorders can distinguish and form important pillars in their identity in order to lead a more grounded life. The following questions hope to be addressed; how many adolescents are affected by anxiety disorders? What role does art therapy play in helping those with anxiety disorders through the healing process? How does the process of exploring identity through art therapy work as a healing mechanism for adolescents with anxiety disorders? What research has been done on identity, identity cultivation, and its importance? What are the origins of mindfulness and how is it applied today? How is mindfulness related to healing for those with anxiety? Why is identity formation so important in adolescence and emerging adulthood?
This thesis will highlight the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the younger population, provide research and knowledge on treatment options, recognize that everyone has mental health, offer the perspective of the author who has been through the recovery process, and optimistically perform all of these tasks in an approachable manner. The relevance of The Anxious Mind: A Creative and Introspective Look into Anxiety Disorders and Recovery Through Identity Cultivation and the Art Making Process will hope to exist in and contribute to the fields of art therapy, the visual arts, and psychology. The literature in these fields will also hopefully be contributed to through this visual and research based thesis as well."
Senior thesis was probably the most time consuming and overwhelming project I have completed thus far in life but it was well worth all of the handwork. Now that I have completed it I feel as though everything else in life should be a piece of cake, right? Well, probably not, but at least I can confidently say that I will be well prepared for grad school when the time comes to continue my education and take the next steps in my artistic and professional pursuits.
Now, time to get ready for my final presentation!