Not everyone has an easy time expressing themselves verbally. Finding the right words to give a deep understanding of emotions can be challenging. Art therapy activities for addiction recovery offer a different technique to help people express themselves. Some report that art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways verbal communications can’t.
Art therapy is much more than just starting with a blank canvas and being told to create something. A therapist is not trained to interpret random drawings or paintings. Instead, they guide you in using art and creative expressions as a form of healing. Art therapists are typically master-level therapists with a special certification in art therapy. They use this strategy in conjunction with other therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Benefits of Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery
Having a substance use disorder means alcohol or drugs have altered the structure of your brain. Once you stop misusing alcohol and drugs, the brain begins to heal. However, it can take a year or more for complete healing. These same substances have prevented you from feeling emotions like sadness, anger, fear, and even happiness. This is one reason it can be so difficult to verbalize how you feel with a therapist.
For example, if you have experienced significant trauma in your past, you may not be able to come up with the right words to explain the effects of the trauma on your life.
Art therapy can help, and you don’t even have to be artistic. Using various techniques, you can experience benefits such as:
- Relieves trauma symptoms
- Alleviates depressive symptoms
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Increases self-esteem
- Regulates emotions
Art Therapy Techniques
Below are specific art therapy techniques proven to offer these benefits and much more.
The First Step Series
Early recovery is hard, and it is normal to struggle with thoughts of relapsing and wondering if getting sober is possible. The first step series motivates you to engage in substance use disorder treatment and recovery.
The first step series benefits include helping you overcome denial, find reasons to stay in recovery, adjust to the treatment process, and prepare you for change.
Self-care is essential for recovery from physical, emotional, and substance use disorders. When practicing self-care, it means to recognize your needs and meeting them so you can experience overall healing. Examples of self-care include getting massages for muscle aches and pains, journaling, meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc. Anything that makes you feel better and promotes good health is self-care.
Without self-care, you are at higher risk for relapse. Get creative with the container you make and fill it with many self-care activities.
Create Greeting Cards
Art therapy can combine writing with creative expression. Creating a greeting card is a great way to focus on specific people or events in your life that need to be addressed. On the front, your design represents your connection with the card’s recipient. Inside, write whatever you need to say to bring you closer to closure.
You are not required to send the card. Creating a greeting card is for your healing only.
Self-Portraits of Transformation
The self-portrait activity can be done many times, addressing various emotions, events, relationships, etc. There are three steps to creating the transformation of themselves. The first portrait is of the adverse event, image, or anything holding them back in their recovery. The second portrait reflects where they are right now in their recovery journey. The third portrait is their potential, the good things they can achieve in recovery.
In recovery, mindfulness is a big part for reconnecting the mind, body, and spirit. Mindfulness is not always participating in things like yoga or tai chi. It also includes very simple techniques, like taking deep breaths or sitting still and reflecting.
Mindfulness jewelry can help you take small steps. Whether you create a ring, bracelet, necklace, or keychain, it should be something that can help you refocus on peace and serenity. Many people choose mindfulness beads. You can use beads and string you buy from the dollar store or create your beads with clay and paint.
When you feel discomfort or stress, hold your beads, touch them, think about their meaning, and allow yourself to recognize what is causing your distress and how to resolve it and regulate your emotions.
Vision boards are a great way to get someone to think about their future, set goals, and dream. Many people believe that what you see for yourself, what you envision, is what you will attract. If you only envision a life of misusing drugs and alcohol, that is likely what you will get. On the other hand, seeing yourself as sober, employed, in a healthy relationship, and happy is also likely what you will get.
Use magazines, newspapers, photos, and anything else that can be attached to a personal vision board. Create a collage of everything you want for your future. When finished, hang the vision board in a place you will see it many times throughout your day.
Finding an Art Therapist
Art therapy is a small part of a more extensive treatment plan. In addiction recovery, you need many different treatment activities. So, when looking for an art therapist, look for a treatment center that offers multi-level therapies that include individual and group therapies since it is beneficial in both.
Your checklist for finding an art therapist can include:
- Treatment center with mental health and substance abuse treatment activities
- Master-level therapists with specialties in art therapies
- Individual and group therapies
- Varied art therapy activities including movement-based art, visual arts, creative arts, expressive writing, and music engagement
- The art therapist’s experience includes working with your personal mental health and substance use issues
- Ways your art therapy will be integrated with the other treatments in the program
The treatment center you choose will be able to answer all your questions about art therapy as part of your overall addiction treatment plan. Art therapy is effective and can lead to more comprehensive addiction recovery. Start your search for an art therapist today.
Art Therapy Activities for Addiction Recovery at Dedicato Treatment
If you or someone you know is looking for art therapy activities for addiction recovery, contact us today. At Dedicato Treatment, we are here for you every step of the way in your journey to recovery, whether it be through a residential treatment program or our intensive outpatient program.