5 Art Therapy Exercises for Healing Anxious Attachment Style

Woman with paint on her hands smiling

If you’ve ever struggled with anxious attachment style in relationships, you are going to love this post! We are going to explore “5 Art Therapy Exercises for Healing Anxious Attachment Style.”

Unravel the complexities of anxious attachment with essential art therapy exercises that are designed for adults. If you struggle with an anxious preoccupied attachment style, you’re likely wrestling with five primary challenges: hyper-vigilance about your partner’s actions, a pervasive fear of abandonment, difficulty trusting others, emotional volatility, and low self-esteem. This article offers a comprehensive guide through five art therapy activities for adults aimed at healing each of these core issues.

What activities are used in art therapy?

From sketching your ‘Inner Critic’—an art therapy example that tackles self-esteem—to molding a ‘Trust Anchor’ in clay, which serves as an art therapy technique for trauma and trust issues, each exercise provides a unique avenue for self-exploration and healing your anxious attachment style. These aren’t just art therapy ideas for mental health; they’re well-planned, expressive art therapy activities aimed at emotional regulation and Soul-Centered Security™.

If you’re in an art therapy group, these activities are adaptable for group dynamics too. You’ll not only discover art therapy mindfulness activities but also explore  a structured approach to your healing journey. From art therapy PTSD activities to the therapeutic benefits of an art therapy mandala exercise, this article encapsulates a holistic approach to anxiety and attachment issues.

So why read till the end? By doing so, you’ll unlock actionable insights into breaking free from the cycle of anxious attachment. You won’t just be dabbling in art; you’ll be embarking on a transformative journey towards what I call “Soul-Centered Security™.” 

Grab your supplies, and prepare yourself for a deep dive into the transformative power of art therapy activities aimed at healing anxious attachment.

The Profound Connection Between Art Therapy and Anxious Attachment

Art isn’t merely aesthetic; it serves as an expressive language that speaks to both our logic and emotions. Just as words help articulate thoughts and feelings, the elements of art—color, shape, form—enable us to delve deep into our emotional labyrinth, making it particularly potent for those grappling with anxious attachment styles. For anyone navigating the rocky terrains of anxious preoccupied attachment style healing, art therapy exercises can serve as invaluable navigational tools.

How Does Art Therapy Affect The Brain?

One reason art therapy is especially impactful for healing anxious attachment lies in its dual engagement of our cerebral faculties. When engaging in art therapy activities for adults, you’re not just splattering paint randomly or molding clay aimlessly. These art therapy examples involve using analytical skills to plan and execute, alongside tapping into your emotional center. This intricate dance between logic and emotion mirrors the internal struggle of someone with an anxious attachment style: the constant analysis of a partner’s actions coupled with emotional volatility and fear of abandonment.

How Does Art Therapy Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Art therapy also offers a safe space for emotional regulation. Structured art therapy techniques for trauma or anxious attachment—like the art therapy bridge exercise or the art therapy mandala exercise—can help you articulate fears and anxieties that may otherwise stay suppressed. With the guidance of essential art therapy exercises specifically tailored for adults, you gain a unique pathway to face, process, and eventually transform these hidden emotional blocks.

Moreover, the holistic approach in art therapy supports what I call “Soul-Centered Security™,” a transcendent form of emotional well-being that helps you build resilience and discernment in relationships. When working with art therapy activities aimed at healing anxious attachment, you aren’t merely expressing; you’re introspecting, evaluating, and transforming.

How Does Art Therapy Help Mindfulness?

The beauty of art therapy—especially when supplemented with art therapy mindfulness activities—is that it offers you both a mirror and a window: a mirror reflecting your inner emotional state and a window to new possibilities for healing your anxious attachment style. By undertaking this expressive journey, you’re not just healing; you’re transforming, evolving, and most importantly, learning to anchor your security to something far more eternal and resilient than any human relationship.

If you would like to learn more about the strengths and struggles for individuals with anxious attachment style, check out my youtube video on the topic: 6 Signs of Anxious Partner + Six Tips to Embrace It

Art Therapy vs. Art as Therapy: Can I Do Art Therapy Myself?

In the realm of healing and self-discovery, the terms “art therapy” and “art as therapy” often get used interchangeably, but it’s essential to recognize the nuanced difference between them for a more targeted approach to healing anxious attachment style and emotional well-being.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a certified practice, usually conducted by licensed and board-certified art therapists. It involves structured exercises and techniques to help people cope with emotional and psychological challenges, providing not just an outlet for expression but a diagnostic tool for understanding deep-rooted issues like trauma, PTSD, or anxious preoccupied attachment style healing. An art therapy session typically involves a guided process where the therapist helps you analyze your creations, lending professional insight into your emotional state or attachment style.

For example, when engaging in essential art therapy exercises designed for adults, you’re led through activities such as sketching your ‘Inner Critic’ or crafting a ‘Trust Anchor’ in clay, which are then unpacked in discussion with the therapist. These art therapy examples often come with evidence-based approaches and methods that are adjusted according to individual needs and are suitable for art therapy group activities as well.

What is art as therapy?

On the other hand, “art as therapy” is a broader, more inclusive concept. While it doesn’t replace the expertise offered in art therapy, it encapsulates the innate healing potential of the artistic process itself. 

Do you have to talk in art therapy?

You don’t need a therapist’s guidance to engage in art as therapy, which can include various forms like painting, drawing, or even simple doodling. It’s more of a personal, introspective activity, aimed at self-expression and emotional regulation rather than clinical diagnosis and treatment. However, when participating in art therapy sessions with a qualified art therapist, there will be opportunities for verbal processing, and it may be encouraged for integrating mental and emotional material into conscious awareness, facilitating insight. 

For instance, when you sit down with an art journal to freely paint your emotions or explore art therapy mindfulness activities, you are essentially engaging in art as therapy. These acts can be healing in their own right, allowing you the freedom to express complex emotions and find a sense of ‘Soul-Centered Security™’ in the process.

Both art therapy and art as therapy offer therapeutic value and can be incorporated into a well-rounded approach for healing your anxious attachment style. Whether you’re engaging in structured art therapy techniques for trauma or taking a more freestyle approach, each has its merits and can be profoundly transformative.

Why is art therapy so powerful?

Using art as therapy has numerous benefits for our mental health and emotional well-being. Here are just a few:

Stress Relief: Creating art can be a meditative and calming experience that helps us relax and unwind. It can also lower our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Improved Mood: Engaging in artistic activities can release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in our brain, and improve our overall mood.

Increased Self-Awareness: By exploring our thoughts and emotions through art, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our inner worlds.

Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Art requires us to think creatively and outside of the box, which can help us develop innovative problem-solving skills.

Improved Communication Skills: Creating art can help us communicate our thoughts and feelings in a unique and effective way, which can be particularly helpful for those who struggle with verbal communication.

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of using art as therapy, let’s dive into some creative exercises that can help you harness the power of art to transform your emotions.

1: Confronting the “Inner Critic” through Expressive Painting

Navigating the challenges of an anxious attachment style often means grappling with an “Inner Critic” that amplifies fears of abandonment and mistrust. This expressive painting exercise, falling under the realm of art as therapy, is tailored to help you not only face but also pacify this Inner Critic, offering a pathway to emotional regulation and healing your anxious attachment style.

abstract image of a human head to illustrate art therapy exercise for dialgouging with the inner critic

Materials Needed:

  • Canvas or paper
  • Paint (acrylic or watercolor)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Palette (or a paper plate)
  • Water cup
  • Paper towel


Steps for Confronting The Inner Critic


1. Set the Stage: Before you start, take a few deep breaths to center yourself. This art as therapy exercise aims to reduce anxiety and confront your Inner Critic, so focus on that intention.

2. Color Your Emotions: Pick colors that represent not just your current emotions, but also the voices of your Inner Critic. Are they harsh and loud, perhaps reds and blacks? Or subtle and insidious, maybe pastels or grays?

3. Lay It All Out: Begin applying paint to your canvas. Don’t focus on creating a specific form, but let your brushstrokes be directed by your thoughts and feelings about the criticisms you often tell yourself.

4. Experiment and Explore: Use different brushstrokes, layering techniques, and color mixing to create texture and depth. This isn’t the time for judgment; it’s a time for exploration and emotional regulation.

5. Complete Your Expression: Continue painting until you feel you have adequately confronted and expressed the character and voice of your Inner Critic.

6. Reflect: Once your painting is complete, step back and observe. What do you see? What emotions did you pour onto this canvas, and how do they help you understand your Inner Critic better?

7. Dialogue with Your Painting: Spend a few moments quietly observing your painting. Take note of the colors, textures, and patterns. Then, as if it were a living entity, begin a dialogue with it. Ask your painting what it wishes to communicate about your Inner Critic. You can journal this conversation or simply engage in a mental exchange.


Sample Questions to Dialogue With The Inner Critic


-“What message are you trying to convey about my Inner Critic?”

-“Do you represent the voice of my Inner Critic? If so, what do you wish to tell me?”

-“How have you (as my Inner Critic) been trying to protect me?”

-“Are there emotions or situations you’re holding that I need to be aware of?”

-“Would you be willing to accept a new role, one that allows joy, freedom, and security into my life?”

Once you’ve acknowledged the protective but perhaps outdated function of your Inner Critic, it’s time to negotiate.  Imagine offering your Inner Critic a more joyful, less restrictive job within your emotional realm.

If you would like to learn more about creative ways for healing the inner critic, check out this video on my YouTube channel: Inner Child Healing with Parts Work.

Extensions For This Activity

Incorporating these dialogue steps into your expressive painting exercise adds another layer to your emotional exploration and could be a pivotal point in shifting towards what you and I both value— “Soul-Centered Security™.” It offers you a direct conversation with your Inner Critic, enabling you to understand its motives and negotiate its role as you work toward healing your anxious attachment style.

 2: Collage Journaling for Healing Anxious Attachment and PTSD

Collage journaling brings together the best of both worlds—art and writing—to create a reflective and expressive outlet. This modified exercise targets those with anxious attachment styles and also coping with PTSD. Here, the art therapy activity acts as a bridge between your conscious and subconscious, offering emotional regulation and potentially transformative insights.

art therapy exercise for collage journaling


Materials Needed:

  • Journal or notebook
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Magazines, newspapers, or printed materials relevant to relationships and emotions
  • Pens or markers
  • Optional: Printed PTSD-related images or quotes


Steps For Collage Journaling For Healing Anxious Attachment and PTSD


1. Choose Your Anchor: Scan through the magazines or printed materials to find an image, quote, or phrase that resonates with either your anxious attachment or PTSD symptoms. This will serve as the anchor for your collage. Cut it out and glue it on a blank page in your journal.

2. Expand the Narrative: Continue adding images, words, or phrases that touch on your emotional experiences, fears, triggers, and hopes. Since this is focused on both anxious attachment and PTSD, consider using images that depict safety, fear, love, or abandonment.

3. Incorporate Writing: Around your collage, jot down thoughts or feelings that come up. You might include questions like, “What triggers my anxious tendencies in relationships?” or “How does PTSD interfere with forming a secure attachment?”

4. Reflect and Dialogue: Once your collage is complete, engage in a moment of reflection. Ask your collage what it reveals about your coping mechanisms, and what changes it suggests for your path towards “Soul-Centered Security™.”

5. Commit to Action: Take a moment to write down one or two actionable steps you can take to improve your emotional regulation and relationship dynamics, based on what you’ve gleaned from your collage.

This art therapy exercise for collage journaling is not just an art therapy activity for adults; it’s a journey into the depths of your emotional world. It aims to illuminate the areas where anxious attachment and PTSD intersect, offering avenues for healing and transformation.

By engaging in this modified exercise, you’re making a commitment to dive deeper into your emotional complexities, confront your triggers, and work on both your anxious attachment style and PTSD symptoms, all in the spirit of what we term as “Soul-Centered Security™.”

What is Attachment Trauma? Learn More

If you would like to learn more about the impact of trauma on your attachment styles, check out my YouTub video on the topic: Cliff Notes on Attachment Theory and Trauma.


3: Crafting a “Trust Anchor” with Clay to Foster Self-Trust and Self-Esteem

Clay sculpting goes beyond mere manipulation of material; it’s an intimate dance between your hands and your emotional world. This tailored art therapy exercise is designed to help you create a “trust anchor,” a tactile object aimed at boosting your self-trust and self-esteem.

clay figure art therapy activity for reducing stress and improving self-esteem


Materials Needed:

  • Clay (air-dry or oven-bake)
  • Sculpting tools (optional)
  • Work surface (plastic or wax paper)


Steps To Craft A Trust Anchor With Clay For Self-Trust and Self-Esteem


1. Set Your Intention: Before you start, take a deep breath and set your intention. Focus on the qualities of self-trust and self-esteem you desire. Keep these intentions at the forefront of your mind as you work with the clay.

2. Begin Crafting Your Trust Anchor: Select a piece of clay and start molding it into a shape that symbolizes trust and esteem to you. This could be a heart, a key, or any form that resonates with your inner wisdom.

3. Integrate Textures and Layers: As you sculpt, consider adding textures and layers that signify depth and complexity, much like the layers of trust and confidence that you are looking to build within yourself.

4. Converse with Your Creation: As you shape and mold, mentally or verbally ask your sculpture questions like, “What do you need to help me trust myself?” or “How can you anchor me in moments of doubt?” Listen to what it ‘says’ back to you.

5. Finalize Your Trust Anchor: Keep sculpting until you feel like your “trust anchor” embodies the self-trust and self-esteem you’re striving for. You’ll know it’s complete when it resonates deeply with you.

6. Reflect and Engage: Once finished, spend some time observing your creation. How does it make you feel? Are there new insights into how you can foster more self-trust and self-esteem?

7. Place of Honor: Give your trust anchor a special place where you can see it daily as a tangible reminder of your journey towards greater self-trust and self-esteem.

Why This is Helpful

The act of creating a trust anchor not only brings your attention to the concept of trust but also provides a tangible, touchable object that serves as a physical affirmation of your inner strength. Engaging in this art therapy exercise can be a transformative step toward achieving “Soul-Centered Security™” and greater resilience in both your personal and romantic relationships. By investing your time and energy into crafting your own trust anchor, you’re not just creating art; you’re forging a symbol of your evolving self, layer by layer.

If you struggle with self-esteem, I invite you to read my other blog post on How To Overcome Codependency in Relationships, or watch my video on How to Stop Rescuing Your Partner , which you can watch through this link: 


4: Mandala Creation with Guided Heart Visualization for Emotional Balance

Finding inner emotional balance is like crafting a symphony where every instrument plays in harmony. This art therapy exercise merges the therapeutic benefits of mandala drawing with the powerful inner journey afforded by guided visualization.

mandala art therapy exercise for self love and self-trust


Materials Needed:

  • Paper and compass (or something to trace a circle)
  • Colored pencils, markers, or pens


Part 1: Creating the Mandala


1. Trace Your Circle: Use a compass or a round object to trace a circle on your paper.

2. Divide the Circle: With a straight edge, divide your circle into four equal quadrants to create the skeleton of your mandala.

3. Design Your Mandala: In one of the quadrants, draw a shape, line, or design. Whatever you draw in this quadrant, repeat it in each of the other three quadrants. Continue this process, always maintaining the symmetry, until your mandala feels full and complete.


Part 2: Guided Heart Visualization


Prepare: Once your mandala is complete, take a moment to admire it. Then, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Guided Visualization Script:

-Imagine the mandala lifting off the paper and transforming into glowing, radiant light.

-Visualize this luminous mandala slowly descending towards you.

-Feel it entering your heart space, illuminating every corner of your emotional world.

-As it settles in, ask your heart-mandala, “How can I find more emotional balance and harmony?”

-Listen for any insights, sensations, or feelings that arise.

-Return: Take a deep breath, feeling the light of the mandala integrated within your heart. Slowly open your eyes, returning to the present moment


Part 3: Reflective Questions


Engage in a dialogue with your heart-mandala by journaling your responses to these questions:

– What messages or insights did you receive during the visualization?

– How did the process of creating a balanced mandala inform your understanding of emotional balance in your own life?

– Can you identify any changes in your emotional state before and after the exercise?

– Are there any actionable steps that the mandala revealed, which you can take to enhance your emotional balance?

In this art therapy exercise, the fusion of mandala creation with guided visualization can offer you a profound tool for navigating emotional complexities. It’s a wonderful pathway to explore the “Soul-Centered Security™” you seek in life and relationships.

If you like this art therapy exercise and guided visualization, a nice extension would my the my healing the inner child meditation on my YouTube channel. You can check it out here: IFS Parts Work and an Inner Child Meditation


5: Art Therapy Bridge Drawing for Managing Future Anxieties 

In every life journey, bridges symbolize transitions, progress, and sometimes, uncertainties about what lies ahead. The art therapy bridge drawing assessment allows you to explore your anxieties about the future and what’s within or beyond your control. This reflective art therapy exercise can bring light to the nebulous paths your mind wanders down when pondering the unknown.

illustrative drawing of a large pencil creating a bridge for a line of men to cross a cavern, a modification of the art therapy bridge drawing assessment


Materials Needed:

  • Paper (preferably a large sheet)
  • Pencils, crayons, markers, or paints


Steps to Complete A Bridge Drawing For Managing Future Anxieties


1. Draw a Bridge: Begin by sketching a bridge on your paper. It could be a simple wooden bridge, a grand suspension bridge, or something abstract—let your creativity flow.

2. The Two Sides: On one side of the bridge, draw where you currently are in life. Include elements that represent your emotions, challenges, or anxieties. On the opposite side, visualize and draw what the future holds for you—your hopes, fears, and aspirations.

3. The Path Across: On the bridge itself, depict the skills, resources, or people that can help you cross from the present to the future. These can be tools to overcome the obstacles you foresee.

4. Place Yourself: Draw a small figure representing yourself on the bridge. Take note of where you’ve placed this figure.

5. Add Details: Embellish your drawing with skies, rivers, or any other elements that deepen your emotional expression surrounding this life transition.

Reflective Questions


Locate Yourself: Why did you place yourself in that specific spot on the bridge?

Obstacles and Aids: What stands in your way from moving forward on the bridge? What could you add to the drawing to help remove or mitigate those obstacles?

Comparing Sides: What differences do you observe between the two sides of your bridge?

Emotional Landscape: What emotions surface when you look at the path you’ve drawn across the bridge?

Control and Release: Are there elements in your drawing that represent things you can control? What about things you cannot control?

Insight: What new insights have you gained about your anxieties surrounding the future and your ability to navigate them?

This art therapy exercise offers more than a creative outlet; it provides a tangible framework to organize your thoughts, fears, and resources. You’ll identify what makes you anxious about the future and explore your “Soul-Centered Security™” tools that can guide you through uncertainty.

Can I do art therapy myself?

Using art as therapy doesn’t have to be a formal or structured activity. There are many ways to incorporate art into your daily life to promote emotional well-being. Here are a few ideas:

-Keep a journal or sketchbook and use it to express your thoughts and feelings.

-Take a class or workshop in a creative medium that interests you, such as pottery, photography, or painting.

-Create a vision board that represents your goals and aspirations.

-Use coloring books or coloring apps as a meditative and calming activity.

-Watch a movie or listen to music that inspires you and create a piece of art that reflects your emotional response to it.

The key is to find a creative activity that speaks to you and allows you to connect with your emotions in a meaningful way. If you would like to learn more about art therapy tools and how it helps with healing anxious attachment check out my youtube video…From Insecure to Secure: Art Therapy Techniques to Change Your Attachment Style: 

Summarizing the Power of Art Therapy for Soul-Centered Security™

Art therapy exercises provide a remarkable way to explore the depths of our emotional and psychological landscapes. But they are not just creative outlets; they are transformative tools designed to bring about ‘Soul-Centered Security™’—a concept that distinguishes itself from the conventional approaches to securing emotional well-being.

What is Soul-Centered Security™?

Soul-Centered Security™ is about orienting your emotional stability and attachment security toward your inner spirit or Higher Self, rather than solely relying on external relationships or conditions. This pivot from a human-centric to a soul-centric paradigm allows for a resilient inner anchor that remains steady despite life’s various storms. It’s not about dismissing the value of secure human partnerships but rather about enriching them through a grounded, spiritual foundation.

How Does Art Therapy Foster Soul-Centered Security™?

Expressive Painting with the Inner Critic: This art therapy exercise helps confront your ‘inner critic’—a major obstacle for those with anxious attachment styles. By painting your emotions and then dialoguing with your artwork, you get to negotiate with your inner critic and discover its protective functions. Could it be re-assigned a more joyful job?

Collage Journaling for PTSD and Anxious Attachment: This allows you to piece together fragments of your experiences and thoughts, serving as an excellent art therapy PTSD activity. It creates a safe space to integrate traumatic memories and current anxieties, offering new perspectives.

Clay Sculpting for Trust Anchoring: Molding clay into a ‘trust anchor’ cultivates self-trust and self-esteem—two attributes that people with anxious attachment often struggle with. The tactile, three-dimensional form serves as a tangible representation of your internal anchor.

Mandala Visualization for Emotional Balance: Combining mandala creation with guided visualization brings different parts of yourself—mind, body, and soul—into a harmonious balance. Dialogue with the mandala for inner emotional equilibrium.

Art Therapy Bridge Drawing Assessment: This exercise not only helps manage anxieties about the future but also serves as a self-assessment tool for recognizing where you stand in life’s journey. It paves the way for proactive, soul-centered planning and coping mechanisms.

The Unique Edge

When coupled with the philosophy of Soul-Centered Security™, these art therapy exercises transform from being just art therapy activities for emotional regulation or art therapy techniques for trauma, into potent catalysts for a deeper, more resilient form of attachment security—one that transcends the limitations of human conditions and relationships.

Whether you’re dealing with an anxious preoccupied attachment style or healing early insecure attachment injuries, these art therapy exercises offer a profound path to reclaiming your Soul-Centered Security™. By internalizing these practices, you aren’t just putting a bandage over a wound; you’re transforming the very fabric of your emotional construct to better weather life’s unpredictabilities. It’s a journey from the Success-Driven Heartbreak Cycle to a more grounded, spiritually-connected existence.

If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate art therapy exercises like this into your daily life and start experiencing more secure and happy relationships, take the attachment styles quiz and find out which introductory course would be right for you!



In conclusion, art as therapy is a powerful tool that can help us process complex emotions and experiences. By engaging in creative activities, we can tap into our inner worlds and gain insight into our thoughts and feelings. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner, there are many ways to use art as a tool for self-discovery and emotional well-being. So grab your supplies and start creating!


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Hi, I'm Briana.

And I love romance novels and campy science fiction shows (anyone else a die-hard Supernatural fan?). I also like being my own boss. Doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. And treating work like play. Through my education, professional experience, and personal life experiences, I have come to passionately serve insecurely attached adults, who want to experience soul-deep intimacy, in their romantic relationships.

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