Anxiety reduction through art therapy in women. Exploring stress regulation and executive functioning as underlying neurocognitive mechanisms

Autoři: Annemarie Abbing aff001;  Leo de Sonneville aff002;  Erik Baars aff001;  Daniëlle Bourne aff004;  Hanna Swaab aff002
Působiště autorů: Faculty of Health, University of Applied Sciences Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands aff001;  Clinical Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands aff002;  Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden, The Netherlands aff003;  Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article



To explore possible working mechanisms of anxiety reduction in women with anxiety disorders, treated with art therapy (AT).


A RCT comparing AT versus waiting list (WL) condition on aspects of self-regulation. Stress regulation (heart rate and heart rate variability) and executive functioning (daily behavioural and cognitive performance aspects of executive functioning (EF)) were evaluated in a pre-post design. Participants were women, aged 18–65 years with moderate to severe anxiety symptoms.


Effectiveness of AT compared to WL was demonstrated in a higher resting HRV post treatment, improvements in aspects of self-reported daily EF (emotion control, working memory, plan/organize and task monitor), but not in cognitive performance of EF, stress responsiveness and down regulation of stress. The decrease in anxiety level was associated with improvements in self-reported daily EF.


AT improves resting HRV and aspects of EF, the latter was associated with art therapy-related anxiety reduction.

Klíčová slova:

Anxiety – Anxiety disorders – Attention – Behavior – Cognition – Emotions – Heart rate – Psychological stress


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