Anxiety Reduction and Superheroes

Anxiety Reduction and Superheros

By: Voski Hovsepian and Kearisten Ketterer

Target Population

Individuals 6 and older

Individual or Group


  • Paper

  • Pencils, pens, markers or crayons


The client will pick his or her favorite superhero. The client will make a list of all of the things that the superhero might worry about. Then the clinician will tell the client that together they will do some activities that can help their favorite superhero not worry as much. The clinician and the client will engage in relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing. After the relaxation techniques, the clinician, and the client will process together how those experiences felt. The clinician will also ask if the child thinks that these reduction techniques can help their favorite superhero, and if he or she thinks that these techniques can also help them with their own anxiety.


  1. Who is your favorite superhero?

  2. What types of things do you think he or she may worry about?

  3. (after engaging in the relaxation technique) Do you feel more relaxed?

  4. Do you think if your favorite superhero did this activity they will feel more relaxed?

  5. Do you think these techniques could help you not to worry as much?

Expected Results

The main objective of this activity is to lower anxiety level in children. The first way this activity will aid in lowering children’s anxiety level is through normalizing the anxiety. Normalizing anxiety can often lead to a child feeling “less different … which, in itself, decreases anxiety and increases hope; it also shifts the child’s goal of “eliminating” anxiety to managing it” (Chorpita, 2007). Children are able to normalize their anxiety by thinking of different things that may “worry” their favorite superhero! The second step to this activity is teaching anxiety reduction techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. By relating the anxiety reduction techniques to their favorite superhero, children may be more willing to engage in the techniques.


One thing for the therapist to be aware of when using this activity is that though these anxiety reduction techniques may help with symptom reduction they will most likely not uncover the reason the child is anxious about certain things in his/her life. It is important to for the therapist to help the child process what makes the child anxious and why while using this activity to manage the child’s anxious symptoms.

Related Works:

Chorpita, B. (2007). Modular Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for Childhood Anxiety Disorders. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Gkika, S., & Wells, A. (2015). How to deal with negative thoughts? A preliminary comparison of detached mindfulness and thought evaluation in socially anxious individuals. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 39 (1), 23-30.

Mayorga, M. G., De Vries, S., & Wardle, E. A. (2016). Mindfulness behavior and its effects on anxiety. I-Manager’s Journal on Educational Psychology, 9 (4), 1-7.

Thoma, N., Pilecki, B., & McKay, D. (2015). Contemporary cognitive behavior therapy: A review of theory, history, and evidence. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 43 (3), 423-461. doi:

Veena, D., & Alvi, S. (2016). Guided imagery intervention for anxiety reduction. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 7 (2), 198- 203.

Originally posted on the Geek Therapy Wiki, hosted on the now-defunct Wikispaces platform, as part of Dr. Patrick O’Connor’s course Geek Culture in Therapy.

With this, I would also encourage the possibility that the character is an “antihero” (a protagonist or notable figure who is conspicuously lacking in heroic qualities). Characters of this sort can present a very relatable perspective for clients/patients who do not see themselves as heroic in any way or those that just see themselves as “doing what must be done” in their situation. This can apply when misunderstanding occurs with what is “heroic,” as well as in many other situations where, even when the client/patient has a good understanding of heroism, they cannot find anything in themselves that they would consider heroic.

Definition from Merriam-Webster online dictionary: Antihero Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster