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Over the years, addiction professionals have learned all addicts overcome addiction uniquely. Each rehabilitation facility has different treatment programs to choose from. Most facilities offer individual and group therapy as well as creative therapies which help individuals heal from trauma and addiction. Art therapy programs are used in some rehabs and have been proven to be useful in substance abuse treatment and the addiction recovery process. 

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy programs are for individuals who have experienced illness, trauma or have troubles dealing with their everyday life. During the creative process of art therapy, individuals can learn how to interact in group therapies and gain a better awareness of themselves and others around them. Art therapy does not only help with traumatic experiences, but it can help overcome stress, symptoms of co-occurring disorders, and addiction. 

Art therapists are professionals who have the knowledge and training for both therapy programs and art classes. These professionals lead the art therapy sessions. Art therapists understand psychological theories, human development, clinical practices and different traditions of the arts. During these sessions, the patient may be asked by the professional to explain what their art creation is. They may be asked if an image describes their current thoughts and feelings, or they may be asked to create a current self-portrait. 

In parallel to therapy sessions, a patient may find it helpful to reflect on their past art creations to assess their current and past insights. Often, some clients notice their beliefs and outlook on life have changed in just a few short months. In some cases, they may not be able to feel these changes, but their artwork shows otherwise. 

Types of Art Therapy 

There are many ways an individual can be creative. However, some creative options seem to be more beneficial in addiction recovery. Below is a list of general art therapy sessions that can be beneficial for addicts in recovery. 

Dancing – Dancing allows an addict to express themselves by not only focusing on their concentration but their mind and body. Becoming aware of what your body can do is something many substance abuse patients need. One of the benefits of dancing is that you can do it anywhere. You can dance with sober friends, or in the privacy of your own home. It is an excellent way to exercise and stay in shape as well as learn about your body positively and healthly. 

Painting – Watercolor, oil, or acrylic painting is an excellent art therapy session for addiction patients. Painting not only takes place in a quiet setting, but it is also relaxing, allowing the patient to paint and express whatever they are feeling. Alcohol and drugs can mask someone’s true feelings; however, painting helps bring those thoughts and feelings back to the surface a little bit at a time. 

Pottery and Sculpting – This technique can be successful for anyone recovering from addiction. Creating a sculpture can help patients identify and heal those underlying scars from substance abuse issues. 

Instrument – Using a musical instrument to overcome addiction can be highly beneficial. While learning to play an instrument can take some time and dedication, it also teaches commitment and patience. 

Drawing – Just like painting, drawing can help addiction recovery. With practice, patients can develop skills related to drawing to help reduce anxiety and put focus on something other than drugs or alcohol. 

Singing – Just about every person sings whether they are thinking about it or not. Even if you have never been interested in singing, music therapy can help individuals express their emotions that are often too difficult to put in their own words. 

There are many forms of art therapy. Find what you are interested in or focus on skills you have already developed. Doing this, can help with drug and alcohol cravings. 

Art Therapy in Addiction 

Some individuals find it easier to express their feelings and emotions by either writing them down or portraying them through music. Those who are battling addiction are typically ideal candidates for art therapy. Those who have abused drugs, substance abuse can cause poor communication skills and language loss. Therefore art therapy is beneficial for addicts. The benefits of art therapy can last post-rehab. Typically, those who have struggled with impulse control and addiction are at risk for relapse. However, if they continue art therapy after they have left rehab, it can help reduce the chances of relapse. 

How Art Therapy Helps Patients in Rehab 

Art therapy is an important session in addiction treatment within many rehab facilities. There has been research conducted showing art therapy helps teach patients non-addictive, comfortable methods to help develop a positive self-image and increase self-esteem as well as encourage healthy self-worth. Individuals can continue art therapy even post-rehab. 

Art therapy merely is about substituting negative behaviors with positive behaviors. After checking out from rehab, a patient is typically inspired to continue what they have learned in their art therapy sessions. Individuals can set aside a specific time throughout the day to focus on their art creations to overcome cravings and withdrawal periods. 

Why is Art Therapy Useful in Addiction Recovery?

Some addicts have troubled homes and/or issues with parents or loved ones and this can cause difficulty coping with emotions. Having these troubled relationships can also cause difficulty in responding to and completing a 12-step program. Art therapy teaches recovering addicts a new way to express emotions and reflect on their past and future. When an individual is unable to communicate effectively, art therapy tends to help shed some light on the issue and helps them express their feelings through their art creations. 

As with any form of rehab treatment or therapy, it is important for individuals to remember the road to long-term sobriety may not be easy, or that every approach may not work. Even though art therapy is typically successful and helps relax patients, some individuals may struggle with the emotions that it brings up. Since each addict and addiction is different, not one therapy is the best for all addicts. Contact one of Serenity Acre’s Admission Coordinators today to set up an appointment to determine the best treatment option for you.