Express Yourself: Art As Addiction Therapy

Admitting you have a problem with substance abuse is the first and most critical step in working through your addiction and towards recovery.

Moving from admission to help is next.

You may be receiving assistance in an inpatient rehab setting, or seeking help through outpatient counseling and support groups. No matter where you are getting help, one aspect will remain the same; you will need to effectively communicate with your therapist, counselor, or doctor in order to establish the root cause of your addiction. But this is easier said than done.

You may not specifically know why you have turned to the substance of your choice and even if you do, you may not want to talk about the details. Instead of pushing, your therapist or counselor may employ the technique of art therapy as they help you to explore your thoughts and feelings in a non-verbal format.

How art therapy works

Art comes from the soul of the artist. While working with any medium, you will begin with a blank canvas or untouched piece of clay. You will begin to mold and shape your art in response to specific questions your therapist may ask or memories and feelings your conversations with them may evoke. Collectively, your pieces of art will tell a phenomenal story. They can be examined individually or as a group and once they are analyzed, they may reveal specific untold pieces of your story. Based on this information, your therapist can then begin to help you address any uncovered issues and begin the healing process.

Finding an art therapy program

Just as with any therapy program, you will need to work with someone you are comfortable with and who will be able to meet your needs. Find a therapist who specializes in Art Therapy through the Art Therapy Credentials Board. Arrange an opportunity, either via phone or in person, for the two of you to have an informal conversation. This interview will help you determine if you’ve found the right therapist for you.

Benefits of art therapy for addiction

As adults, we often push the idea of playing with art or craft supplies to the bottom of our list of important things to do because it may seem silly or frivolous. As an addict, nothing could be further from the truth. Arts and crafts can have a huge impact on your addiction recovery as they keep your hands and mind busy. This leaves you very little room to focus on drugs or alcohol. The repetitive motions of many art forms, along with the quiet solitude in which you can surround yourself, are considered to be soothing. When focusing on the process of expressing yourself through your chosen medium, you can become calm and relaxed, allowing you to stay focused on healing instead of the addiction. That calm mental and emotional feeling works to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

Continuing therapy at home

True art addiction therapy does not have to end when you leave your appointment with the therapist. While those pieces certainly serve as a springboard for in depth conversations, they also work as a therapeutic way to become centered. You have the ability to let your imagination run wild and to let your artwork speak for you. The beauty of any form of art is that there really is not a right or wrong way to do it. You can certainly follow the guidelines, but when you let go, the process becomes more important than the final product.

Although the idea has been around since you were a child, arts and crafts have moved beyond enjoyable to therapeutic. Addicts can seek solace and comfort in their artwork as they heal. But, their importance does not end there. When working in conjunction with a therapist, addicts can also expect to gain clearer insight into themselves and their addiction, which will put them on a better path to recovery.

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