How Art Therapy Is a Healthy Outlet

How Art Therapy Is a Healthy Outlet

Art therapy provides a healthy outlet to patients who struggle with a variety of physical, psychological and addiction concerns.

The benefits of art in therapy and addiction treatment has long been recognized, but the practice has gone underutilized. In the early 1900s, art was used “to provide a creative and relaxing release from the tedium of convalescence” from illness or surgery, and as a tool in psychiatric diagnosis, but the term “art therapy” was not coined until 1942 (Diane Waller, Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment, 2004). Art therapy slowly caught on as the century progressed, although, according to Waller, it followed two distinct courses: “art as therapy and art as psychotherapy.” One option focused on how creativity had healing benefits while the other option focused on how patients react to or interact with act. Art therapy now combines these two concepts to provide a healthy outlet, healing and greater psychological understanding for patients who struggle with physical, psychological and drug concerns.

Understanding Addiction Through Art

Addiction is a disease built upon lies and denial, so the first step of many recovery programs is admitting to addiction, defeat and powerlessness. Art therapy encourages this process of seeing the truth so that addicts can change. The Journal of the American Art Therapy Association shares that a “self-portrait often reflects the individual’s efforts to come face-to-face with his or her addictive nature…Often it is a candid reflection that refutes the individual’s false sense of self and distorted worldview. Self-portraits enable the chemically dependent individual to confront painful realities and to acknowledge the ill effects of his or her addiction” (“Face-to-Face With Addiction: The Spontaneous Production of Self-Portraits in Art Therapy,” 2007).

Addicts often lie to themselves and others about who they are, what they do and to what extent substance abuse controls their lives. Self-portraits help recovering addicts uncover the truth and gain perspective on both their disease and recovery. Other forms of art can be used similarly to uncover emotions or memories that underlie addictive behavior. This practice helps addicts clearly see their current place in the world along with their goals for a sobriety.

Find Art Therapy

Art can be a powerful tool for change and recovery. If you are interested in creative, professional and effective resources for addiction recovery, then let us help. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day at a toll-free helpline to connect you to with recovery services that meet your unique needs; they can provide support before, during and after treatment. Addiction recovery is a journey of creativity and growth, and we want to be with you for every step of it. Call our helpline now to learn more about your treatment options.