For anyone looking to discover the root causes of their self-destructive behavior, art therapy opens doors that might otherwise remain closed. Art therapy allows people to openly express their fears, disappointments, frustrations and hopes honestly and without self-censorship.
Art therapy includes various creative activities that encourage emotional expression and reflection. Many clients respond enthusiastically to art therapy, in part because it gives them a new avenue for self-expression and in part because it actively engages them in their own healing process.
The types of art therapy most commonly offered at mental health and addiction treatment centers include painting, sculpting and drawing, among others. All of these activities are linked directly to the recovery process, giving them a depth of meaning that can connect with the needs of patients.
The use of alcohol, drugs and other destructive behaviors is often a way for people to cope with trauma and emotional pain. When people are under the influence, conflicts that need resolution get buried beneath a cloud of intoxication. Men and women in recovery need healthier methods of dealing with their pain, and art therapy offers an alternative way to access and process difficult feelings.
Traditional therapy is an important aspect of addiction and mental health treatment. But many people find it difficult to translate their feelings into words, especially when they don’t entirely understand those feelings themselves. Art can help remove the barriers that prevent people from acknowledging the true sources of their pain and help them find their “voice.”
Every client has a unique story to tell, and expressing it through art is liberating for many. Even after their inpatient or outpatient rehab program is complete, clients who’ve learned to express themselves through art can benefit by continuing to do so in their daily lives.
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