Expressive Art Therapy for Addiction Treatment and Recovering Addicts
Art galleries are often quiet oases where people gaze and contemplate. Patrons of the arts consider not only what the art form says to them, but often attempt to discern what the piece of work reveals about the artist. Art therapists capitalize on this revelatory aspect of artistic expression and use it to help people recover from all sorts of hurtful experiences. Art therapy has been a recognized recovery tool since the 1940s and since that time has grown in scope and popularity.
Unspoken Feelings Can be Identified Through Art
The idea behind art therapy is that underlying many problems in a person’s life are intense emotions which may be difficult to verbalize. Art therapists say that persons recovering from addiction, abuse, trauma or grief can use the self-expression of artwork to discover unspoken personal issues. Allowing a person to freely work with art in the form of drawing, sculpture, painting and other mediums gives them an opportunity to release feelings that the person may not even know are there. The art therapist has received extensive training in how to spot many forms of nonverbal metaphors and symbols in artwork.
Art Therapy is Useful For Many
Art therapy has been used with success in wellness centers, hospitals, school programs, health clinics and drug rehab facilities. The therapy has proven highly effective in treating younger adults who are seeking to overcome substance abuse issues. Therapists claim that art helps patients discover and face their personal problems, aids in developing social skills, lowers stress levels and can be used to teach self-management techniques. In other settings art therapy has shown benefit in helping people of every age to work through relational conflicts, recover from abuse, confront emotional problems, work through pain associated with grief and trauma and more.
Art Therapy Supports Addiction Treatment
In the case of drug rehab, understanding what a person is feeling and how those feelings impact their actions is key to modifying behavior in the future. The art therapy is therefore combined with counseling sessions (often individual and group settings) and other forms of psychotherapy. Once the person recognizes what is going on inside their emotion and thought processes, they need help learning new methods for coping with them.
Art Therapy as a Professional Treatment
The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) is a national organization of recovery professionals who specialize in using art forms to help people heal. The organization is 5,000 members strong with dozens of chapters in states across the country. The association sets standards for professional competency and works to promote awareness of art therapy as an integral component of recovery treatment.
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