The Long Term Benefits of Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

art therapy teen artist

When an individual is seeking treatment, several options can be available. Many addiction treatment centers offer people different kinds of therapy such as individual, group or alternative therapeutic support such as art therapy. Forms of art therapy are provided in combination with other expressions of healing and support to promote long term benefits for addiction recovery.

Types of Art Therapy

In art therapy, a person uses creativity and imagination to make art that expresses an individual’s self in a healthy, productive way. The goal of art therapy is for the person to expand forms of communication to better convey experiences. Art normally used in art therapy includes:

  • Painting
  • Sculpting
  • Dancing
  • Drawing
  • Acting
  • Music
  • Poetry

How it Works

SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Group Therapy guide describes art therapy as a type of expressive group therapy to help people express thoughts and feelings that can’t be done with words. This is great for people who have underlying psychological issues or trauma related to addiction or even a history of mental health issues or abuse. Creating art is often a nonverbal process which expands the way a person conveys ideas and emotions. Art therapy provides an opportunity to explore, understand and resolve issues in one’s life that cannot be conveyed through regular talk therapy or other settings.

Talking Through Images

When a person does art therapy, it is a form of expression that uses images rather than words to discover insight and meaning. The three techniques art therapy commonly uses can include:

  • Gestalt where the person works out current feelings and experiences as an introduction to deeper conversation
  • Active imagination which uses artwork as a starting point where the person lets his mind roam in spontaneous free association, opening the door to introspection and discussion of feelings
  • Third-hand approach where the technique incorporates help from the therapist as if the person is still in control of the overall artistic vision while getting help from the therapist to produce the art

Art therapy is a useful tool for individuals undergoing addiction treatment because it provides ways to understand and cope with addiction. Art and traditional therapy focus on helping a person practice introspection and healthy coping skills but art therapy can be a great form of expression into aspects of a person’s life previously untapped. In a group setting, art therapy can help people going through addiction treatment grow closer and better understand one another’s experiences and feelings.

Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care with various treatment programs designed to help young men and women recover from addiction. Individual needs are assessed and a program is tailored to meet their needs. Call us if you need help for a loved one with addiction.