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Chromotherapy: An alternative treatment for
mathematics anxiety among elementary school
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1st International Conference on Advance and Scientific Innovation (ICASI)
IOP Conf. Series: Journal of Physics: Conf. Series 1175 (2019) 012183
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Chromotherapy: An alternative treatment for mathematics
anxiety among elementary school students
I Ifdil 1, R P Fadli 1, N Zola 2, L Erwinda 2, A Sari 2, E Churnia 2, I B Rangka
3, S Solihatun 3, K Suranata 4, K Bariyyah 5, Z Ardi 1, A Afdal 1, R Refnadi
1, Z Zufriani 6, N Nikmarijal 7, D Dahlan 8, L Fitria 9, and M Barseli 9
1Universitas Negeri Padang, West Sumatera, Indonesia
2Indonesian Institute for Counseling, Education and Therapy, West Sumatera,
3Universitas Indraprasta PGRI, Jakarta, Indonesia
4Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha, Bali, Indonesia
5Universitas Kanjuruhan Malang, East Java, Indonesia
6Institut Agama Islam Negeri Kerinci, Jambi, Indonesia
7Institut Agama Islam Negeri Syaikh Abdurrahman Sidik Bangka Belitung, South
Sumatera, Indonesia
8UIN Sultan Thaha Saifuddin Jambi, Jambi , Indonesia
9Universitas Putra Indonesia YPTK Padang, West Sumatera, Indonesia
Abstract. Mathematics is often a frightening subject for students. Such conditions are caused by
a stressful learning atmosphere, mathematics subjects that create anxiety. Anxiety experienced
by students in learning mathematics has the potential to cause depression conditions on the
mathematics. Based on this, a chromotherapy treatment was used to reduce the anxiety of
elementary school students to mathematics. Chromotherapy is a treatment designed with the
foundation that any color contains healing energy. The effect of color affects the work of
sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves and improves mood. Chromotherapy provides an
element of relaxation, which from various studies found to reduce anxiety in individuals. This
research uses single-subject design to five students of elementary school with high anxiety. The
instruments used are observation, interview, DASS Inventory. The results show that
chromotherapy provides relaxation and reduces anxiety among students. Instruments used Mini
Mathematic Anxiety Scale (MMAS) and observation. Based on such things this therapy can be
one alternative treatment in helping elementary school students cope with anxiety to the subjects
of mathematics.
1. Introduction
Mathematics is the main subject in every educational unit [1]. Mathematics courses need to be given to
all students from elementary school [2] to equip them with logical, analytical, systematic, critical, and
creative thinking skills, and the ability to work together [3]. The essential values contained therein, and
their functioning in everyday life [4] make this lesson very important to learn [5].
One of the characteristics of mathematics is to have an abstract object [6]. This abstract nature caused
many students to have difficulty in mathematics [7]. Meanwhile, mathematics learning in elementary
school [8],[9] was the basis in the application of mathematical concepts to the next level. That is, the
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results of their understanding of mathematics in primary schools will determine the achievement of
understanding in the next level. This becomes a pressure[10],[11] for students. They are required to
master a lot of materials as the target of achievement at the school level, which ultimately leads to a
negative attitude. It is also suggested by Ho the affective factor of math anxiety was related to
mathematics achievement in the negative direction [12]. As for students who have negative attitude
toward mathematics, rarely complete math tasks, and experiencing mathematics anxiety.
Anxiety is defined as an emotional state that causes discomfort characterized by feelings of worry,
anxiety and fear that can interfere with life [13],[14-17]. Furthermore, Steven Schwartz points out
anxiety is a negative emotional state marked by foreboding and somatic signs [18] of tension, such as
the racing heart, sweating, and often, difficulty breathing (anxious, meaning means constriction or
strangulation) [19]. Anxiety is similar to fear with a less specific focus [20]. Whereas the fear is usually
a response to some immediate threat, anxiety is characterized by apprehension about unpredictable
dangers that lie in the future. Anxiety was defined by Freud as "something felt," an emotional state that
included feelings of apprehension, tension, nervousness, and worry accompanied by physiological
arousal [21],[22].
Anxiety has been found to be one of the most prevalent emotional problems associated with
mathematics [23]. Anxiety students in the face of mathematics lessons can be interpreted as an emotional
state of unpleasant students, characterized by anxiety, unhappiness, worries, unwarranted fears that there
will be things that are not desirable when students face math lessons. Students' anxiety about
mathematics will have an impact on their test results. The psychometric literature is also very clear on
the global consequences of mathematics anxiety [24],[25],[26]. People who are highly math anxious
avoid math: They avoid elective coursework in math, both in high school and college, they avoid college
majors that emphasize math, and they avoid career paths that involve math [27]. The worst impact of
this anxiety [28],[29] can cause depression [14],[30],[31] to the lesson. To prevent this adverse effect,
chromotherapy treatment [32],[33] can be used to reduce mathematical anxiety in elementary school
Chromotherapy, also known as color therapy [34],[35], uses specific colors to address specific needs.
It can be defined as the therapeutic use of color to balance energy. Color therapy is a form of therapy
method using certain colors [36]. Color therapy is created because it is based on the statement that each
particular color contains healing energies [37],[36].
Chromotherapy is a method of treatment that uses the visible spectrum (colors) of electromagnetic
radiation to cure diseases [36]. It is a centuries-old concept used successfully over the years to cure
various diseases [38]. Color therapy is one of the non pharmacological therapies that can reduce anxiety
[39]. The effect of color affects sympathetic and parasympathetic work and improves mood.
A number of studies have elaborated the relationship between the human body and colors [36]. The
human body, according to the doctrine of chromotherapy, is basically composed of colors. The body
comes into existence from colors [40], the body is stimulated by colors [41] and colors are responsible
for the correct working of various systems that function in the body [42]. All organs and limbs of the
body have their own distinct color [38]. Chromotherapy can give effect to physiological changes more
than just psychological stimulation alone. For example, red color can stimulate the autonomic nervous
system, while blue has a calming effect. So that color therapy can provide an element of relaxation,
which from various studies of relaxation can reduce anxiety or anxiety in individuals.
2. Method
This research used a single subject research (SSR) method [43]. Single subject research (SSR) is a
method used in the study of psychotherapy by conducting individual investigations based on two views
of the individual as an object and unit of analysis [44]. The research design used was ABA (Baseline
(A1) - Intervention (B) - Baseline (A2). The subjects of the study were five people with the very severe
anxiety level based on the results of the previous assessment need. At this design, the first step is to
collect the target behavior data at the first baseline condition (A1) data collection, used the Mini
Mathematic Anxiety Scale (MMAS) adaptation from DASS [45],[46] and observation sheet. MMAS
used five category: normal (0-4); low (5-6); medium (7-8); high (9-10) and very high (11-21). After the
data stabilized at baseline condition, intervention (A1) was given. The collection under intervention
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condition was carried out continuously until the data reached the trend and a clear level after which each
baseline condition (A1) was repeated on the same subject [47]. The data obtained were analyzed used
Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test [48] and visual data analysis [49]. The research data set can be accessed in
Open Science Framework [50].
3. Result and Discussion
Measurements of anxiety levels were performed three times at the baseline phase (A1), then three times
in the intervention phase (B) and three times in the next baseline phase (A2). The estimation of the
tendency of direction indicates at the baseline phase (A1) steady trend direction, the median value of 13
at the beginning of observation to the end of baseline observation (A1), and in the intervention phase
(B) decreases. As for the median value of 10 down to 6 as well as in the baseline phase (A2) the trend
showed a steady decline to the median number 4. Anxiety level at the end of the baseline was 13, then
6 at the start of the intervention and gradually decreased to 4 second baseline (A2). This suggests that
the more interventions given, the lower the target behavior.
When calculated from the baseline condition (A1) in the last session of measurement (13) and the
first session under intervention condition (B) (10) then obtained the difference between the baseline data
points last baseline with the preliminary data treatment is 4. This means that the change decreases target
behavior indicates an improved meaning (+) or effective treatment lowers the client's anxiety level. The
results of graphical analysis in groups can be concluded that chromotherapy is effective to reduce
mathematical anxiety in elementary school students.
In addition through observation, researchers also conducted data collection, used the Mini
Mathematic Anxiety Scale (MMAS). MMAS was given back to the client to measure the client's overall
anxiety level after receiving treatment with Chromotherapy. The results of the MMAS also showed
significant results of the observation process. Five clients are at an extremely severe anxiety level based
on the results of a MMAS before being given Chromotherapy treatment. However, after getting
treatment, five clients showed an anemic-lowering level that is at the level of simple and light.
Furthermore, based on Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test obtained data comparison between data MMAS
after and before treatment with Chromotherapy with total five cases, all tend to be negative. This means
that the level of anxiety clients after getting treatment is lower than before getting the treatment. This
indicates the client's anxiety level after the intervention of Chromotherapy treatment decreases.
The test results at different levels of client anxiety through the pretest and posttest MMAS also shows
results that support the results of the previous analysis. When compared pretest and posttest data, the
value of Z is -2.041, which falls on probability 0.041 (<0.25), which means H0 is rejected. There are a
significant difference in the client's anxiety level between the pretest and the posttest of the MMAS.
However, this suggests that chromotherapy treatment may be used to reduce client anxiety, with
significant results.
The findings above show many as five respondents experienced decreased levels of anxiety after
treatment. Mathematic anxiety [51],[52] that occurs on the client can be seen from the symptoms shown,
including: 1) Physical symptom or emotionality [53], such as tense when doing math problems, nervous,
sweaty, trembling hands when having to solve math problems or when starting math lessons; 2)
Cognitive or worry symptoms [54], such as pessimists themselves are not able to do math problems,
worried that the result of his mathematical work is bad, not sure of his own mathematical work. Fear
becomes a laughing matter if not able to do math problems; 3) Symptoms of behavior [55], such as
silence for fear of ridicule, do not want to do math problems for fear of failure again and avoid math
lessons. However, chromotherapy proved significant in reducing mathematical anxiety in students.
Chromotherapy is a holistic and non-invasive therapy [56] that involves use of colors for treating
various physical ailments and emotional disturbances. Chromotherapy uses a set of principles to create
harmonious color and color combinations for healing [57]. Chromotherapy can create a feeling of
relaxation and comfort. In practice, there are two techniques in chromotherapy [57] treatment that can
be done, namely: 1) Rainbow healing technique, this technique is very simple and easy. Principally,
water when exposed to sunlight in a colored container (such as a colored bottle), will receive vibrational
energy from that color; and 2) Color breathing technique, this technique is one form of visualization
techniques. Clients are asked to imagine inhaling and exhaling certain colors.
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4. Conclusion
Chromotherapy is effective in reducing mathematical anxiety in students; there is a significant change
between before being treated with after being given. Before given Chromotherapy treatment, the
students' anxiety was in very heavy category, then after being given treatment of anxiety was down on
a simple and light category. It thus proves that Chromotherapy is effectively used to reduce mathematical
We are very grateful to the therapists and all the Co-therapists working at the Indonesian Institute for
Counseling, Education and Therapy for their performance from implementing the treatment to
completion of this paper. This paper can be useful for future psychotherapist services.
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