The Healing Power Of Art Therapy

As of late, adult coloring books have been on the market to encourage relaxation during times of stress. These coloring books encourage adults to focus on the present moment, using it as a means to detach from unpleasant thoughts. Despite the connection between coloring and stress reduction, experts do not consider it art therapy. Art therapy is not restricted to any age group, and works well for children, teenagers, adults, couples, families, and single individuals. Art therapy can occur in hospitals, schools, wellness centers or physical rehabilitation centers, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, and correctional facilities.

Art therapy honors the transformational capacity of creative expression and healing through artful connection. It has been used for hundreds of years to help with anxiety, eating disorders, cancer treatment, psychological challenges, and can help manage more challenging mental health conditions like schizophrenia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and bipolar disorder. It will allow for people to paint, draw, take pictures, sketch, sculpt, or doodle into improved emotional and spiritual states. Facilitators and art therapists are present in classes or centers to guide students to explore their emotions and improve mental health.

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The Benefits

The benefits of art therapy include restoring someone’s identity by strengthening one’s self-esteem. Because patients are working through painful emotions in a constructive manner, they can feel proud of being creative through challenging times. Secondly, they can have the confidence to express themselves without words. Furthermore, as someone works to bring emotions to the surface, they feel safe being expressive and feeling understood.

An added benefit is that feelings of stress and anxiety are lessened as someone is partaking in an enjoyable activity. Moreover, if someone struggles with a poor attention span, they can connect with each moment as they create artwork. Lastly, painful emotions are released as individuals explore their emotions and realize their potential as they create art.

Participants can activate pleasant emotions and resolve trauma. In cases of addictions or obsessions and compulsions, participants can heal through doing healthy repetitive activity with a healthy focus like meditation to find peace or joy. Lastly, participants can feel empowered by being in control of emotions and their connection to trauma. This allows them to feel pride in making something meaningful and creating a different connection with their trauma or pain.

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Art Therapy And Mental Health

Art therapy has been helpful in treating Schizophrenia in patients and individuals suffering from PTSD. A study conducted by the American Art Therapy Association observed several groups of participants after sessions, including people:

  • With Autism
  • With Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
  • With chemical dependences
  • Battling grief
  • Battling depression
  • With PTSD

The study found participants with ADHD had better focus and made decisions with better clarity and participants with Asperger’s had positive behavior. People with chemical dependencies who practiced the 12 Steps found this therapy to be beneficial in reinforcing the first step and the third step of the 12 Steps. There was less denial found in their addiction, noting that making collages seemed to help them.

Participants with grief noticed an improvement in cognitive and emotional coping. Participants had less sadness, anger, and guilt after art therapy sessions. Those with depression had an improved self-image and a stronger sense of self-esteem. Individuals with PTSD also had interesting findings. Another study found participants with PTSD felt more relaxed, had reduced behaviors that contributed to poor emotional function, and had increased emotional responses. They felt safe in their bodies and had a stronger sense of peacefulness.

Art And Addiction Treatment

Oftentimes there is trauma, compulsion, and pain involved in substance use disorders. Such types of addictions, called co-occurring disorders, require patients to heal the underlying trauma and provide awareness. If a patient suffers from alcoholism and depression, the therapist can be present to notice any patterns and inform the participant of observations.

Art therapists use psychotherapy skills in their sessions, allowing patients to learn about themselves and understand areas of growth. Feelings of denial, depression, compulsion, and obsession are lessened, allowing someone to be more present and feel better without the belief that substances are the only means to peace or joy. The added support of an art therapist in addition to other methods like detox medication, support groups, and ongoing medical supervision can greatly enhance the experience on the road to recovery.

Art therapy has been connected in helping treat schizophrenia in patients and individuals suffering from PTSD. It is also beneficial for people with addictions.

Explore Your Rehab Options

Individuals battling substance use disorders have the luxury of finding inpatient treatment centers that offer innovative practices. Art therapy, music therapy, animal therapy, holistic treatments, and adventure therapy can all impact someone’s motivation and feelings of safety while healing core wounds. To start your search, contact a treatment provider. Discover what creative but powerfully transforming practices are available to you.



Krystina Murray

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  • Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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