Worry Canvases: The Effectiveness of Combining Art Therapy with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

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Riccardi, Maria
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The study examined the beneficial effects of individual art therapy on anxiety-related symptoms in a sample of 12 adults suffering from Anxiety Disorders (AD). The use of clay, watercolor, colored pencils and collage materials demonstrated that the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC) is a viable tool in cognitive restructuring. The central questions posited are the following: Do adults with AD find the combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Art Therapy effective in their treatment? What is the effectiveness of combining image making with a range of materials on cognitive flexibility? What is the impact of the continuum of art materials on anxiety? The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaires (AAQ-II) were administered, as well as a post-treatment evaluation survey and the Expressive Therapies Continuum Qualitative Assessment (Hinz, 2009). The findings from these instruments suggested that the framework of the ETC as a guide to art therapy is beneficial in reducing anxiety-related symptoms, and that clay and collage making were the most effective media in reducing anxiety.