Cognitive-Behavioral Art Therapy

Can combining the two modalities help better treat anxiety?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has long been used to treat anxiety through interventions like psychoeducation, exposure, cognitive challenging, cognitive refocusing and more. It is based on the Cognitive Triangle which shows how an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors all impact each other. It aims to correct the maladaptive thoughts of behaviors that are leading to an unwanted emotional response, which in this case is the anxiety.

CBT is typically a short-term intervention that is goal oriented and skills-focused. Although many find the structured and results driven approach of CBT eye opening and helpful, some find it limiting and dry. This is where combining it with a tangible creative modality like Expressive Art Therapy (EAT) can be beneficial.  

EAT can utilize various expressions of creation including  music, movement and visual art to express an individual’s emotions through imagery. Art therapy has often been used with children to help them express things they cannot yet verbalize but it can also help adults struggling with anxiety to express their experiences. 

Within the visual arts realm of EAT, clinicians have experimented with collaging, painting, drawing and sculpting to help client’s reduce anxiety and strengthen self-concept. These same concepts can be utilized with any form of creative expression, as long as it allows for a connection between mind and body. Through the fusion of art making and cognitive therapy, individuals can create concrete tangible representations of their cognitive processing as they overcome their anxiety.  

If you are interested in learning more about how Cognitive-Behavioral Art Therapy can help you,  you can contact me at To learn more about me or to schedule an appointmentCLICK HERE.

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Chamin Ajjan Psychotherapy


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