Why Art Therapy is Beneficial in Addiction Treatment

There are a number of methods that are used to treat drug and alcohol addiction. One that is particularly effective is the holistic approach, where addiction is looked at as something that affects a person as a whole; on a physical, mental and spiritual point of view. Holistic treatment includes a number of strategies that offer healing on these levels.

One of the ways that treatment centers can help clients in recovery is through the use of creative therapies like journaling, poetry and art therapy. Talk therapy, either as part of a group or by speaking with a counselor one-on-one is still a major part of the treatment process.

Clients here at Summit Behavioral Health benefit from a combination of treatment methods used to help them identify the source of their addiction, help them learn new behaviors to cope with stress and other challenging emotions, and improve self-esteem.

Ways Art Therapy Helps Treat Addiction And Prevent Relapse

Not everyone who is in a drug or alcohol treatment program finds it easy to express their emotions or tell the story of what they have been through in words, even to a counselor or therapist with whom they have developed a trusting relationship. To be able to sit down to say, “Today, I feel …,” may not adequately express what is going on inside of them.

If that same person is given an artistic medium to work with, they can channel their creativity into creating something that represents how they feel. There are no rules about what the project or the piece “should” look like; the work is entirely their own.

The role of the art therapist is not to critique the art work. Instead, the therapist discusses what the client has experienced through creating his or her art. The therapist observes the client’s facial expressions and manner while working on his or her art during the session to see whether the client appears stressed, angry, challenged, sad, frustrated, etc. These impressions are discussed after the art is completed.

The art therapist also asks the client what the image or piece of art means to the client, which gives them the chance to work through his or her feelings that were brought up through going through the process of creating the art.

Over time, clients learn how to deal with their difficult emotions and their self-esteem can increase. These two factors are an important part of healing and relapse prevention.

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