Art therapy & anxietyAbbing, A. C. (2020, January 22). Art therapy & anxiety. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/1887/83276
This PhD thesis addresses one of the easy accessible interventions that is often applied in anxiety treatment but little studied to date: art therapy; and anthroposophic art therapy (AAT) specifically.
The primary aim was to study the effectiveness of art therapy in the treatment of anxiety and explore its working mechanisms in a systematic review and a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The systematic review of (non-)randomised controlled trials on art therapy for anxiety in adults demonstrated that effectiveness of art therapy on anxiety has hardly been studied. Outcomes of the RCT showed preliminary proof of effectiveness of art therapy in the treatment of anxiety. AAT has large effects on the reduction of anxiety symptom severity in women. The therapy also improves quality of life and several aspects of self-regulation: 10-12 sessions led to a higher resting HRV (heart rate variability), improved access to perceived emotion regulation strategies and improvements in self-reported daily executive functioning. Improvements in daily executive functioning (domains emotion control, plan/organize and task evaluation) contributed the most to anxiety reduction, followed by improvements in emotion regulation (acceptance of emotions and goal-oriented action). These outcomes support the indication for art therapy in the treatment of anxiety and provide directions for further studying effectiveness and working mechanisms of art therapy, in order to learn about their specific indications and to support clinical practice.
The secondary aim was to study how case reports within this profession can be used in art therapy research. The developed case report guideline for AAT was positively evaluated on face validity. A case report of a female client with anxiety demonstrated that hypothesized working mechanisms from the RCT could be further connected to art therapy specific factors, and that structured art therapy assignments appeared to implicitly address and improve aspects of emotion regulation and executive functioning.