5 Art Therapy Activities For Anxiety
Art therapy is an effective treatment for many anxiety disorders, such as social phobia and panic disorder. According to Kelly Lynch – a licensed mental health counselor and registered art therapist from Seattle – “art therapy helps you release feelings and improve your mood”.
The therapeutic process can be both enlightening and revealing, helping you gain insight into your fears. But it’s essential that you find a therapist experienced in dealing with panic disorders. If unsure where to look for one, look for one certified by either the American Art Therapy Credentials Board or International Association of Art Therapists.
Mind mapping is a popular art therapy exercise that encourages participants to organize their thoughts and emotions in an organized fashion. You can use markers, paint or colored pencils for the illustration of the map; then add branches that connect related thoughts as they occur to you.
A therapist can guide you through the process and encourage you to take your time. She may also offer suggestions about how best to express your ideas through artwork.
Anxiety can make it challenging to start art therapy or stay committed to your project. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try these simple art therapy activities for a boost of motivation:
Yarn and weaving are often used in art therapy exercises, and weaving in particular can be soothing for people suffering from anxiety due to its repetitive nature. You can create beautiful wall hangings using either a frame loom or make one out of cardboard just to practice this technique.
You can even use the woven pieces to conduct a role-play during your session with the therapist to explore family relationships and emotions. This approach may be especially useful for people who have experienced trauma histories, who may have difficulty expressing their emotions verbally.
Visualizing your anxiety can be an effective tool for recognizing and managing it. It also helps identify what triggers it and develop positive coping strategies to manage symptoms. Utilizing a picture to represent your anxieties allows you to focus on the positive aspects of life while avoiding dwelling on negative thoughts that contribute to symptoms.
Create an anxiety journal with pictures of objects that elicit calm emotions and keep it near your bedside for easy access when feeling anxious. You could also use this book as a means to communicate with therapists or other healthcare providers about the effects of your symptoms.
Anxiety is a complex illness with various degrees of severity and onset. It’s difficult to diagnose, and its effects on daily life–from eating and sleeping to work and relationships–can be felt far-reaching.
A randomized-controlled trial found that people with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder who received 10 sessions of art therapy reported less anxiety and improved moods than those receiving group counseling alone. This research involved a sample of women between the ages 18-65 diagnosed with generalized anxiety, social anxiety or panic disorders who had moderate to severe symptoms.