Creativity & Well-being: A Feasibility Study for a New Course at a Small Liberal Arts College in Japan


Considering the escalating mental health needs of college students during and after the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the stigma surrounding mental health in Japan, a team of educators and artists at two small universities in Tohoku joined forces with medical arts researchers at a large, Research 1 university in the United States to explore how creative activities such as visual arts, creative writing, and drama, as well as yoga, meditation, self-expression, and learning about positive psychology impact student well-being. Half of the 20 students enrolled in this intensive two-week course participated in our study, which implemented both quantitative and qualitative methods. Two Comprehensive Inventory of Thriving (CIT) surveys showed that total CIT scores increased significantly from pre- to post-course (p=0.04). Interviews conducted following the class suggested the following eight themes: 1. Self- acceptance and self-compassion, 2. Self-expression: being seen and developing confidence, 3. Seeing others: developing empathy and community, 4. Redefining creativity, 5. Finding safe places, 6. Recognizing negativity bias and character strengths, 7. Reflecting on the past, and 8. Living in the present. Examining these themes to explain our quantitative results, we will also present two representative case studies, drawing from interviews, journal entries, and creative artifacts of one participant showing significant change as well as another showing little or no change after the course. Quantitative and qualitative data will be analyzed through the “active INgredients,” from ArTs in hEalth (INNATE) Framework, identifying overarching and intersecting categories for important elements that contribute to well-being (Warran et al., 2022).

Author Information
Lee Friederich, Akita International University, Japan
Kathryn Cullen, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States
Naoko Araki, Akita International University, Japan
Yuko Taniguchi, University of Minnesota Rochester, United States
Naeko Naganuma, Akita International University, Japan
Joel Friederich, Akita International University, japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2023
Stream: Nurturing Creativity & Innovation: New

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon