Art Therapy

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Art TherapyThere are many different types of drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs available. From inpatient addiction treatment where patients live in a residential facility, to outpatient rehab where recovering addicts live at home, but attend regular therapy sessions – treatment choices abound. Alternative forms of therapy are also becoming an integral part of comprehensive treatment programs. Art therapy is one of these alternative treatments that have shown to help recovering addicts make progress in their journey toward sobriety.

Understanding Alternative Addiction Treatment

There’s an idea that holisitc addiction therapies eschew all traditional teachings and methods among the general public. This generally is not the case, and art therapy is often introduced as part of a larger therapy plan.

For many, treatment may also include partial hospitalization, medical detox, inpatient programs, intensive outpatient care or full outpatient treatment. When using alternative treatments like art therapy for addiction recovery, it is best to create a plan tailored specifically to the individual instead of using a rigid one-size-fits-all formula.

Other forms of alternative therapy include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Exercise therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Equine therapy

What is Art Therapy for Addiction Recovery?

Art-based therapy programs are designed to help people avoid addictive behaviors and channel creative energy away from using drugs and alcohol. This type of therapy also helps patients deal with complicated emotional issues that have caused them to use drugs or alcohol in the past. Art therapy can also help many patients deal with trauma that happened during childhood or earlier in their lives.

Art therapies are not intended solely for people who are artists or even those who have artistic aspirations. In fact, people who have never made art, and even those who don’t consider themselves generally creative, are often welcome. Studies suggest that when combined with 12-step programs, art and music therapy alike, leas to more positive treatment involvement and outcomes.

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How Does Art Therapy Work?pottery

How art-related therapy works is different from facility to facility. Some work on a group basis, while others work exclusively with individuals. Many facilities allow patients to create their own works, while others believe it to be more beneficial when a trained artist or therapist helps the patient to translate their feelings into more articulate projects.

When looking for an art-related therapy facility, recovering addicts should do their research to make sure the particular program they are interested in will match their needs.

What are the Program Goals?

  • Art-based therapy programs all vary, but they do tend to share common goals for their patients.
  • Increase an individual’s understanding of why they use drugs and alcohol through increased self-awareness.
  • Help recovering addicts channel their emotions and energy into something rewarding instead of destructive.
  • Aid patients in learning how to deal with complicated emotions that are often hard to express in more tangible forms.
  • Give patients a safe space to feel like they are not being judged based on their past issues while they heal.
  • Allow patients to fully recover mentally and physically after addiction, while finding the skills and strength they need to stay clean and sober for good.


  1. Aletraris, L., Paino, M., Edmond, M. B., Roman, P. M., & Bride, B. E. (2014, October). The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from



Last updated on April 6th, 2017 at 03:56 pm

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