Seeking professional help for an addiction can include a number of treatment options. Rehab facilities offer different kinds of therapy, where the goal is for the patient to be exposed to varying methods of healing and expression. Art therapy is an excellent way for addicts to work on expressing their feelings in a healthy way during recovery treatment.


Art therapy consists of an individual using their creativity and imagination in order to make art and express their feelings in a positive way. In addition to expressing themselves, art therapy is helpful in that it can help the patient expand their communication skills. During rehab, the patient will be working toward sobriety as well as determining the root cause of the addiction. Art therapy can help the patient work through prior events in their live that may have exacerbated the addiction or caused it in the first place.


Methods of art therapy are more than just drawing, it can also include acting, dancing, sculpting, painting, writing, and music. There are different techniques as well. In the Gestalt method, the therapist helps the patient work out current experiences and feelings. In active imagination, the patient uses their artwork as a starting point to practice free association and discover their feelings. In the “third-hand” approach, the therapist assists with production of the art, guiding the patient where to go.


Art is especially helpful in helping people express their thoughts and feelings because it is a nonverbal process. Many addicts have gone through traumatic experiences, like abuse, that are difficult to deal with. Rather than processing the event, they’ve suppressed the memory in their brain for years. Since addiction therapy aims to discover the root cause of the addiction, dealing with that traumatic event will likely come up. Sometimes the things that happen to addicts are unspeakable, and expressing their emotions in nonverbal ways is more comfortable. Many times, they’ve never told anyone about the trauma, so it’s a life-changing moment.


Practicing art therapy in a group setting can encourage people to grow closer and better understand where each individual is coming from. Art is universal, and people may relate to art in a way they wouldn’t to that of a regular conversation.


Beyond aiding in addiction recovery, art therapy helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art making.

Dealing with addiction is difficult, but art therapy could be beneficial in many situations. Treatment Now has a staff of recovery experts who are available to answer any questions.

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