Multimodal Art Therapy for Overcoming Negative Emotional States among Adolescents

Author Name(s): Anastasia V. Mishina, Juliya L. Blinova, Olga G. Belomoyeva
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Psychological and pedagogical support for schoolchildren during the adolescent age crisis is acute socialproblem today. Over the past 2016, the number of attempts of adolescent suicide has increased 1.5 times. The number of teenagers, which have computer and game addiction, is constantly growing, the number of schoolchildren, demonstrating aggressive antisocial behavior, remains at a high level.

The purpose of this study was to develop a program to overcome negative emotional states of adolescents, using multimodal art therapy.

The choice of multimodal art therapy, as a means of overcoming communicative barriers, was determined by its orientation on acquiring a variety of sensory and communicative experiences by participants, through the use of artistic, creative and play activities.

The methods of theoretical scientific cognition were usedin the process of research. They allowed to distinguish the characteristics of negative emotional state in adolescents (the level of personal anxiety, the level of aggression, the presence of suicidal risk, the feeling of chronic fatigue, and the difficulties in interacting with adults and peers).

The result of investigation was the program to overcome the negative emotional state of adolescents, using multimodal art therapy. Approbation of the developed program revealed its effectiveness as one of the possible forms of psychological and pedagogical support of schoolchildren during the adolescent crisis.


The need for psychological and pedagogical support of schoolchildren, experiencing the adolescent age crisis is, at the moment, the most acute problem of the modern Russian socio-cultural and educational reality.

Children’s ombudsman Anna Kuznetsova had voiced the statistics of adolescent suicides at the conference call “On the Prevention of Juvenile Suicides”, held in the National Center for Crisis Management of the


Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia: “From 2011 to 2015, the number of suicides in the country steadily decreased by 10% per year. But in 2016 there is an increase by 57%. We drastically rolled back for five years “[4].

Among the objective factors, determining this situation are the following: multi-aspect (social and economic, political, educational, etc.) instability of the surrounding world, the expansion and accessibility of modern technologies, forming destructive communities and the “death cult” (virtual”death groups”), the decrease of interest in the outside world and loss of value of real interaction with the surrounding reality, lack of available qualified psychological support in educational institutions, insufficient involvement of the family in the life of teenager.

In the process of analysis of existing Russian research in this field (V. Averin, A. Ambrumova, V. Efremov, I. Kon, A. Mikhailina, N. Mokhovikov, P. Murzabaeva, I. Pogodin, A. Samygin, V. Tregubov, Yu. Fisin, et al.), the main internal causes of destructive behavior of adolescents were identified, namely:

  1. Acute emotional experience of self-uniqueness, superimposed on a pronounced feeling of self-imperfection and insolvency;
  2. Feeling of social and psychological isolation and loneliness (misunderstanding and rejection by peers, parents and teachers);
  3. High level of personal anxiety and frustration;
  4. Impossibility of realization of positive emotional-value interpersonal interaction;
  5. Reappraisal of values ​​and the formation of own worldview, moral and cultural attitudes;
  6. Pessimism, associated with the own social future and making of constructive plans;
  7. Desire to be accepted and recognized, to meet the group of like-minded people.

All these inner emotional experiences of the adolescent lead to the emergence of a stable discomfort, characterized by marked negativism and aggression, going to virtual or imaginary reality (including under the influence of alcohol, narcotic and psychotropic drugs), the appearance of suicidal thoughts and moods, deviant behavior.

Thus, a stable negative emotional state causes the occurrence of affective emotions, destructive thoughts, as well as deviant, addictive and suicidal behavior of adolescents.

In the process of development of generalized concept of this study, we selected the characteristics of negative emotional state of adolescents, on the basis of which, a diagnostic package of techniques was subsequently formed. The investigated characteristics were the following: the level of personal anxiety; subjective feeling of loneliness and isolation; readiness for constructive interaction; level of working capacity (or a feeling of chronic fatigue); availability of internal resources to overcome stressful situations.

The purpose of our research was to identify the potential of multimodal art therapy technologies in overcoming the negative emotional states of teenagers.

In accordance with the goal, the following tasks were specified:

  1. Creationof a safe psychological space for the manifestation of “ego” of every teenager.
  2. Creation of pedagogical situations for delegationthe part of authority to the adolescents for managing the group, in order to increase self-esteem and group status among peers.
  3. Improvement of skills of recognition and self-regulation of emotional states.
  4. Development of extra-curricular activities, contributing to the formation of skills for overcoming conflicts and gaining the experience of constructive interaction between all participants.

5. Expanding the range of cultural and aesthetic perception of reality.


The results of this investigation allow to draw the following conclusions:

  1. Individual and group creative activity in safe non-judgemental spacec on tributes to overcoming the actual negative states, to searching for new internal resources in difficult situations; reduces the level of anxiety and aggressiveness.
  2. The use of multimodal approach in the art therapy opens up new opportunities for the support of teenagers in the field of overcoming negative emotional states through the use of playing and gaming components, within the framework of artistic and creative activity, in various branches of art.
  3. The results of the study showed positive dynamics in the correction of negative emotional states of adolescents, causing the appearance of affective emotions, destructive thoughts, as well as deviant, addictive and suicidal behavior of adolescents.
  4. At the same time, it can be noted the need to develop a program for teachers and psychologists, who carry out psychological and pedagogical support for adolescent schoolchildren, aimed at increasing their competence in art, to strengthen the effectiveness of the developed program. We agree with I.G. Batyrshina and L.G.Safiullina, who believe, that “the artistic universalism of the individual implies a multiplicity of thinking, the desire to manifest himself in different types of art and even science, to discover new horizons in the world learning” [10]. In this aspect, only a teacher, who is all-round in the field of art, is able to realize supportive relationships with adolescents, using a multimodal approach in art therapy.



The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.



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