The creative process can be a helpful way to express emotions that may be too difficult to put into words. Using creativity and making art can also be a way to work through trauma or painful experiences.
When combined with other treatment services (such as detox, individual counseling, and group therapy), art therapy can play a crucial role in the psychological component of the treatment of substance use and mental health disorders.
At Vanity Wellness Center, our mission is to provide exceptional, comprehensive, and accessible, holistic care for those struggling with addiction and mental health. We use holistic treatments such as art therapy to complement traditional, evidence-based treatment methods. Offering these services allows us to tailor treatment plans to meet each client’s needs.
What Is ‘Art Therapy?’
Using art in therapy is different from art therapy. For example, using creative processes in treatment usually involves using art as a means to an end. Art therapy, however, centers around the creative process as its own healing tool.
Creating art can be a way to explore emotions, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and boost self-awareness. This distinction is important because art therapy should not be used as a replacement for traditional therapeutic modalities but rather used as a complement to these other forms of treatment.
Art Therapy Techniques
Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy. These therapists use various techniques to help people explore their emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills. Art therapy can be used with individuals, groups, or families, and it can be adapted to meet the needs of people of all ages.
Common techniques used in art therapy include:
- Doodling and scribbling
- Finger painting
- Working with clay
As clients create art, they analyze what they have made, and how it makes them feel. They can then look for themes of conflicts that may be affecting their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. These techniques can help people understand themselves better and make positive changes in their lives.
Does It Work?
In studies of adults who experienced trauma, art therapy was found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression. In addition, art therapy has been used to help people process and heal from the trauma of sexual abuse, natural disasters, war, and violence.
Art therapy can be a valuable tool for helping people express themselves when they do not have the words to describe their experiences. Art therapists are trained to provide a safe and supportive environment where clients can explore their feelings and memories through creating art.
One review of the effectiveness of art therapy found that this technique helped patients undergoing cancer treatment improve their quality of life and alleviate certain psychological symptoms.
The study found that art therapy effectively reduced cancer patients’ stress, anxiety, and depression. It also helped to improve their self-esteem and body image. The findings suggest that art therapy is a valuable adjunctive treatment for cancer patients and can help to improve the overall quality of life.
What Are the Benefits of Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment?
Art therapy can be a valuable component of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. Many clients find that art therapy is a relaxing and enjoyable way to address some of the more complex aspects of rehabilitation.
SUDs are often rooted in deep emotional pain from childhood trauma, depression, grief, or other difficult situations. Art therapy is an effective therapeutic tool because it can help clients explore their feelings. Learning to regulate these overwhelming emotions is one of the most important steps toward long-term recovery.
The creative process allows patients to access repressed feelings and begin to understand the underlying sources of their addictions. Art therapy provides a space for clients to express their emotions without judgment, and the art therapist can help guide clients towards a greater understanding of themselves.
Clients explore their feelings through painting, drawing, sculpting, or any other form of art that resonates with them. The art therapist will help them interpret their work, and this interpretation can be a powerful way to discover the emotions that lie at the root of their addiction.
Creative activities provide a way to process some of the stressful emotions and anxieties during treatment. After a few art therapy sessions, clients at Vanity Wellness Center often report feeling more hopeful and empowered as they continue their treatment and recovery journey.
Many people who struggle with addiction find art therapy to be an incredibly effective tool in their recovery journey. Art therapy can help to replace harmful coping mechanisms and provide a much-needed outlet for creative expression.
After clients complete a rehabilitation program, it is important to encourage them to continue art therapy as part of their daily aftercare plan. This can be particularly helpful for those who have traditionally used drugs or alcohol at specific times, such as after work or on the weekends.
Setting aside time at night to create art can also be a great way to wind down and calm the mind, and taking an art class on the weekends can be a fun and sober activity.
By participating in art therapy, individuals recovering from SUDs can stay centered and focused. It is a healthy and uplifting way to stay connected to sobriety and is an excellent tool for self-discovery.
Art therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of populations with diverse needs. It is particularly helpful for those who have difficulty verbalizing their thoughts and feelings. Art therapy techniques can be used in individual, group, or family sessions and are often used with other therapies, such as psychotherapy and counseling. At Vanity Wellness Center, we know that art therapy can be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan for substance use disorders. Our creative and holistic therapies, in conjunction with evidence-based practices, help clients develop healthy coping mechanisms and stay focused on recovery. We offer intensive outpatient dual diagnosis treatment, outpatient detox, discharge planning, aftercare, and relapse prevention services tailored to your individual needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call Vanity Wellness Center today at (866) 587-1737.