A young man uses art therapy to help him manage anxiety.

How Art Therapy Can Help You Manage Anxiety

Art therapy offers a holistic approach to treating anxiety by integrating the mind, body, and emotions.


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How art therapy treats anxiety

Art therapy can be a valuable tool in treating anxiety. Through creative expression, people can explore and process their emotions nonverbally, bypassing cognitive barriers and accessing deeper levels of self-awareness. Engaging in creative expression such as painting, drawing, or sculpting can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, leading to a sense of calm and well-being. Additionally, creating art can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem, helping people cope with their anxiety disorder positively and constructively. Overall, art therapy offers a holistic approach to addressing anxiety, integrating the mind, body, and emotions.

Skills taught in art therapy for anxiety


Mindfulness involves practicing being present at the moment and increasing self-awareness to manage stress and reduce feelings of anxiety. This skill involves focusing on the present without judgment and is often achieved through an art therapy activity such as drawing or painting.

Relaxation techniques

This skill involves learning various methods to relax the mind and body to alleviate tension and anxiety. Art therapy can help people explore and find relaxation by creating repetitive patterns or using soothing colors in their art.

Self-emotional expression

Using art to express and process emotions can help reduce anxiety levels. Through an art therapy session, people can explore and release pent-up emotions they may not be able to express verbally, leading to a sense of relief and emotional release.


This skill involves using art to reflect on personal experiences and gain insight into underlying causes of anxiety and anxious thoughts. Art therapy encourages people to explore their anxious thoughts and feelings through their creative process, providing a deeper understanding of themselves and their anxiety triggers.

Coping skills

Developing healthy coping mechanisms through art-making can help people manage anxiety disorder symptoms. By working with an art therapist, people can discover new ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as creating a visual representation of their fears and finding ways to overcome them through artwork.

Self-esteem building

Using art to boost self-confidence and self-worth can reduce anxiety. Art therapy can help people recognize their strengths and accomplishments, fostering a positive self-image and reducing feelings of inadequacy that may contribute to anxiety.

Overall, art therapy for anxiety teaches people how to utilize creativity as a tool for self-exploration and emotional healing, providing a holistic approach to managing and reducing anxiety levels.

Benefits of art therapy for anxiety

Art therapy has been shown to have long-term benefits for people dealing with anxiety. Through the creative process of making art, people can express and process their emotions, reduce stress, and increase their self-awareness. This can lead to a greater sense of control and coping skills when dealing with anxiety in the future. Working with an art therapist can also improve communication and social skills, providing a supportive environment for people to connect with others and build a sense of community. Overall, art therapy can have a lasting positive impact on people’s mental well-being and quality of life.

How quickly does art therapy work for anxiety? 

Art therapy can work quickly for people experiencing anxiety. Some people may find relief after just a few sessions, while others may take longer to see the full benefits. Art-making and expressing emotions through various mediums can provide a sense of calm and relaxation for people experiencing anxiety. Over time, the creative process with art therapists can help people manage their anxiety and improve their overall well-being.

Coping skills for anxiety?

Deep breathing

Deep breathing is a common and effective way to manage anxiety. Taking slow, deep breaths can help reduce panic and promote relaxation. It can be done anywhere and at any time when feeling overwhelmed.


Regular physical activity can help people to manage their anxiety by releasing endorphins and reducing stress. Whether going for a walk, doing yoga, or participating in a team sport, exercise can provide a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. This practice can help people calm their minds and reduce anxiety by bringing their attention to the present and creating a sense of peacefulness.

Progressive muscle relaxation

This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to promote physical relaxation. By systematically working through these muscle groups, people can release tension —reducing a common physical anxiety symptom.


Writing down thoughts and feelings can be a helpful way for people to explore and understand their anxiety. Journaling can provide an outlet for processing emotions and can help to identify patterns or triggers that contribute to anxiety.

Other types of treatments for anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety. By working with a therapist, people can learn coping strategies to manage their anxiety and improve their overall mental well-being.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing people to their fears or triggers in a controlled and safe environment. Over time, this can help people become desensitized to their anxieties and reduce their overall levels of anxiety in response to specific situations.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)

MBSR combines mindfulness meditation and yoga to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, people can learn to better manage their anxiety and reduce the impact it has on their daily lives.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is a talk therapy that helps people develop skills for managing their emotions and improving their relationships. It focuses on teaching emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance to help people cope with anxiety and other challenging emotions.

Intensive outpatient program for anxiety

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is used to treat anxiety when a person requires more structured and intensive treatment than traditional therapy but does not require 24-hour care in a residential setting. IOP provides comprehensive and individualized treatment that includes therapy, support groups, and medication management while allowing the person to continue living at home and attending work or school. This level of care offers greater flexibility and support to help people manage their anxiety while still being able to participate in their daily activities. In some cases, art therapy may also be incorporated into the treatment plan to help people express and process their emotions in a creative and therapeutic way.

Anxiety treatment with Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with anxiety, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including anxiety. Our expert clinicians incorporate Art therapy into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing anxiety is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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