Art therapy is a holistic, mind- and heart-engaging practice with a proven track record of success in mental health treatment. Counselors with expertise in this form of therapy often recommend it for people struggling with anxiety disorders, and art therapy for anxiety has helped an impressive number of men, women, adolescents and children regain their emotional balance and reassert control over formerly debilitating anxiety symptoms. Rather than attack anxiety head on, art therapy indirectly defuses anxiety by promoting greater self-understanding along with a general sense of peace and calm that will eventually translate to daily life.
What Is Art Therapy for Anxiety and How Does It Work?
Simply defined, art therapy is a form of unfiltered self-expression. Through painting in various mediums (watercolors, oils, acrylic, etc.), drawing, sculpting, collage, photography or digital art creation, recovering anxiety disorder sufferers peel back the layers of their subconscious as they seek to reveal the true sources of their troubling thoughts and feelings. Art therapy participants are encouraged to indulge their creative instincts and “go with the flow,” wherever it might take them, in a therapeutic setting where the goal is personal growth and transcendence. After they’ve produced actual works of art, patients in art therapy consult with trained art therapy counselors who help them analyze and interpret the meanings and messages. Patients and counselors will then discuss how to apply those newfound insights to the recovery process. In its essence, art therapy for anxiety is a self-help strategy that puts participants on the path of self-discovery, a necessary step if recovery from an anxiety disorder is to be achieved.
Benefits of Art Therapy for Anxiety
Art therapy makes a perfect addition to a treatment regimen for anxiety sufferers who:
- Have trouble expressing themselves verbally (children, adolescents, social anxiety disorder sufferers, etc.).
- Haven’t responded well to more conventional types of therapy.
- Are plagued by strong feelings that can’t be reconciled or eliminated through talk therapy alone.
- Need something fun and exciting added to their treatment plan in order to stay motivated and enthused.
- Aren’t in touch with their feelings and don’t understand the deeper reasons for their anxiety problems.
- Need to build their self-confidence by developing new skills and finding productive hobbies.
- Aren’t patient enough to practice mind-body therapies like yoga or meditation (art therapy is more action-oriented).
- Have a strong belief in the usefulness of holistic healing methodologies (art therapy can only work if patients believe it will work).
Art Therapy and the Value of Creative Self-Expression
Open and honest self-expression can help identify, clarify and demystify the hidden worries and fears of those who suffer from excessive, disabling anxiety. Art is an effective non-verbal outlet for those who need to confront their emotions fully and without compromise. Art therapy for anxiety works because it helps participants re-channel their mental energies, both consciously and unconsciously, toward more constructive, instructive and productive states of mind. Sources: Art Therapy Association