The power of art therapy in the treatment of addiction lies in its capacity to allow people to express emotions without using words. For many people in recovery from chemical addiction, significant blocks prevent the intellectualization and verbalization of painful thoughts or feelings. Art therapy, therefore, offers an outlet for these blocked thoughts and feelings that might otherwise remain buried.
Art therapy recognizes:
– the nonverbal symbols /metaphors of the client’s art work
– the client’s creative process
– the artwork as a point of reference or framework
– the thoughts and feelings that are being communicated through the artwork
The goal of art therapy is self-discovery:
– to allow the client to discover the underlying feelings and thoughts that are contained in the artwork
– to define what those thoughts and feelings mean to the clients.
The use of art therapy provides a powerful tool for not only self-reflection and judgment, but for social understanding, higher self esteem and a relief of longstanding trauma and anxiety. Art therapy also introduces a new and creative way of handling triggers that can start the circle of self-destructive behavior. Therapeutic art expression introduces a new way of living that revolves around reflection, instead of, a life of constant and uncontrolled reactions to stress, anger and trauma.
The forms of art therapy expression include imagery, collage making, color therapy, mask making and clay modeling. All of these modalities focus special attention on the issues that frequently accompany addictive behaviors including family of origin, birth order, early recollection, lifestyle and self-image issues.