Creative therapy can be extremely helpful in drug and alcohol addiction recovery. At First Steps Recovery, art therapy provides a great way for people struggling with addiction to get in touch with their inner feelings and express them in a creative way without putting them into words. Creative arts therapy allows a person to relax …
Creative therapy can be extremely helpful in drug and alcohol addiction recovery. At First Steps Recovery, art therapy provides a great way for people struggling with addiction to get in touch with their inner feelings and express them in a creative way without putting them into words. Creative arts therapy allows a person to relax without the use of drugs or alcohol in a safe, caring environment.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is used in many drug and alcohol detox centers as a way to work through certain experiences, emotions, and issues that have led to addiction. It offers a safe way to communicate feelings and ideas without using conventional talk-therapy methods. Through creative expression, a person is often able to focus and express many feelings that they find difficult to express in a conversation with a doctor or professional therapist.
Art therapy is the practice of engaging a patient through the use of creative media as part of a treatment program. Many patients who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction find art therapy a beneficial and rewarding way to communicate their feelings of physical pain and emotional distress. Often used in conjunction with more traditional forms of therapy, art therapy allows a physical and emotional release for hidden trauma, pain and feelings of anger and anxiety. Unlike a typical art class, an art therapy session focuses on a patient’s thoughts, emotions and self-expression rather than disciplined art skills.
How Does it Work?
Throughout history, the healing, meditative power of art has been well documented. In the last 20 years, scientists and physicians have focused on understanding how art works to promote healing. In 2013, the BBC released a short film about the healing powers of art therapy. In a medical setting, the film focused on the relationships between patients and art therapists. It showed that many patients felt inspired by the creative art process and the value of expression without words. It also showed that art therapy greatly reduced stress and anxiety in most patients resulting in lower levels of cortisol in the body. Decreased cortisol levels and reduced stress and anxiety allowed patients to experience increased feelings of trust toward their therapist and more willingness to participate in individual and group therapy sessions.
In addition, the process of creating visual art showed increased stimulation in multiple parts of the brain. Art therapy involves hand-eye coordination, which accesses the creative right side of the brain. It allows a patient with addiction problems to process abstract feelings and emotions, fears, and internal struggles brought on by drug and alcohol dependency.
Types of Art Therapy
By helping a person with drug and alcohol addiction reconnect with his/her inner self, art therapy helps to raise self-discipline and self-esteem. This creates an opportunity for new, more positive experiences beyond the destructive, habitual and painful emotional patterns created by addiction.
In art therapy, a person uses his/her imagination and creative thinking skills in a healthy, productive environment. The goal is to expand forms of communication and create a more comfortable way to convey experiences. Typical types of art therapy include:
Art therapy gives people a different way to understand and cope with their addiction. Art therapy and traditional therapy both focus on helping a person to reconnect with their authentic self and develop healthy coping skills to deal with life. When combined with traditional talk-therapy treatments, art therapy can give a person struggling with addiction a new perspective on life that encourages positive behaviors. It also serves to reduce the stress and anxiety levels often associated with withdrawal.
What are the Benefits?
Addiction is often a way to cover up a past trauma or psychological issue. Rather than facing the problems and working through the necessary steps of healing, many people turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with pain or disappointment. Art therapy offers a coping mechanism that doesn’t require words and face-to-face interaction with another person. Sometimes sitting in a chair talking to a stranger is very intimidating. Discussing your innermost fears can be difficult, even if it’s with a medical professional or therapist.
Addiction takes a toll on the body, mind and spirit and creates roadblocks to recovery without professional help. Dealing with addiction and recovery may be a difficult journey, but creative forms of expression can free the mind and body of uncomfortable limitations and create an easier road to successful recovery.