A person seeking substance abuse treatment may find several different treatment options that vary location to location. This is because in the last few decades, substance abuse treatment programs have expanded to include therapies that compliment the standard treatment methods.
A complementary therapy intervention is one that is not intended to treat addiction on its own, but instead works with other proven addiction treatment interventions to help the person in recovery.
Using art therapy to treat addiction is believed to help a person in recovery find ways to express themselves without using words. This can be difficult for many individuals who are attempting to manage their addiction.
Giving the person an outlet, while encouraging expression and creativity, can help to ease anxiety, increase self-awareness, decrease frustrations, and reduce conflicts.
Art therapy also requires a person to integrate different skill sets to complete their work. This can help strengthen the pathways in the brain and help them express themselves in a much healthier way.
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Understanding Art Therapy For Addiction Treatment
Art therapy has been used in substance abuse treatment programs for over 60 years. The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) recognizes the important role that art therapy can have in treating and managing addiction.
There are many activities that a person can participate in that encourage the experience of the creative process, while also addressing a number of issues that come up during drug and alcohol treatment.
Some of the more common activities in art therapy include:
- drawing/painting emotions
- making a journal of art
- emotion painting
- incident drawing
There is no limit to the activity options in art therapy for addiction, and these activities are not limited to drawing or painting. Creativity and connection are two of the main factors.
Benefits Of Art Therapy Addiction Treatment
While not always measurable by scientific standards, there have been several positive reports regarding art therapy in addiction treatment.
Ways that art therapy can benefit those in substance abuse treatment include:
- promoting or facilitating change
- better equipping addicted individuals to cope with emotions
- increasing emotional stability
- improving cognitive function
- increasing self-awareness
- boosting self-esteem
Sometimes finding appropriate outlets can be difficult for someone in the early stages of addiction. Art therapy is also beneficial because it provides a positive activity to replace the negative ones usually associated with addiction.
Art Therapy In Massachusetts
Swift River offers art therapy as part of the intensive 30- to a 60-day residential treatment program at our rehab facility in Massachusetts.
There are two separate art studios dedicated to art therapy at Swift River. The first is a dedicated art room that provides space for an oil painting workshop with an instructor. This studio employs traditional landscape and portrait oil paintings.
Research has shown that self-portraits can reveal how an addicted person sees the diseased or addicted, parts of themselves. Participants can then use those portraits to explore and resolve the distorted sense of self they have as a result of addiction.
The other art studio contains a variety of different materials and tools for projects like drawing, jewelry making, creating walking sticks, cut-paper art, watercolor painting, and collage making.
Offering both guided and independent art studios for those in treatment is helpful because it allows people in different stages of recovery to engage in the benefits of art therapy.
Find out more about our residential program, which includes art therapy, by speaking to a treatment specialist today.
- American Art Therapy Association — Art Therapy Today
- Journal of Addiction Nursing — The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
- Journal of the American Art Therapy Association — The Use of Art Therapy in Treatment Programs to Promote Spiritual Recovery from Addiction
- Journal of the American Art Therapy Association — “Face-to-Face” With Addiction: The Spontaneous Production of Self-Portraits in Art Therapy
- PsychCentral — Art Therapy in Addiction Recovery