Anxiety is a common condition in modern life. Anxiety disorders are estimated to be the most common mental disorder in the world. In 2017, 284 million people experienced anxiety worldwide. The most common types are generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and panic disorder.
All of them have in common a frightening experience of anxiety and fear, which causes great distress and suffering. Currently, there are multiple treatments for anxiety; on one hand, there are pharmacological treatments, and on the other hand there are psychological therapies that help the client to understand and manage their anxiety symptoms.
Another form of therapy for the treatment of anxiety is Art Therapy.
What is this therapeutic approach?
It is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as a means for the person to express his conflicts, fears, and emotions. Art Therapy has the advantage that it can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches such as psychodynamic therapy, cognitive therapy, and humanistic approaches. Besides, it can be used with children, adolescents, adults, and seniors, individually or as a group.
Let us explore how Art Therapy works in the treatment of Anxiety:
With the guidance of an art therapist, clients suffering from anxiety can express their feelings, thoughts, conflicts, or memories through one or more artistic techniques. For example, a person suffering from Panic Attacks can capture in a drawing the emotions, bodily sensations, and thoughts that he or she experiences during the panic attack. Or a person who experiences great anxiety about a traumatic event can graphically reproduce the frightening scene and emotions that are associated with it, giving way to a process of elaboration through his memories and associations.
Art Therapy promotes the creative side of people suffering from anxiety. You do not need to be an artist or have artistic skills to benefit from its effects. It has been found that artistic work is a form of self-expression that has calming effects like mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation. During the Art Therapy session, the individual can learn to regulate his emotions, recognizing and accepting them.
Some of the most used techniques in Art Therapy are:
Drawing and Painting:
They use a wide variety of drawing resources such as crayons, markers, watercolors, pastels, charcoal, and acrylic paints. Clients use these pictorial resources to express with images conscious and unconscious aspects related to their anxiety. In other cases, clients may be asked to draw their anxiety and give corporeity to an experience that is difficult to identify.
Using clay clients can model various figures and compositions related to their fears and conflicts.
Collage and photographs:
The creation of collage allows great flexibility and creativity using varied images, textures, or incorporating fabrics and elements of nature. Recent or old photographs may be used to understand biographical or current elements related to the origin of anxiety.
It is always important to remember that as with other therapeutic approaches Art Therapy requires the guidance of professionally certified specialists. Art Therapists have a Master’s degree in Art Therapy and the appropriate clinical and psychotherapeutic experience. Remember if you have symptoms of anxiety look for a licensed psychotherapist to help you.