Art Therapy for addiction recovery

This Page was last reviewed and changed on June 16th, 2022

When clients contact UKAT in need treatment for addiction or mental or emotional issues, we have the ability to offer them numerous choices from an extensive list treatment options. One of those choices is art therapy. In its various forms, art therapy offers therapeutic benefits by way of giving clients a means of self-expression as they go through the process of dealing with the emotional side of their problems.

We are thrilled to be able to offer clients this option among so many others. There used to be a time when art was not considered therapeutic, a time when every client who called us would have been given very few choices at all. But over the years, we have learned that there are lots of different ways we can help those struggling with addiction, compulsion, and emotional problems.

Art therapy comes in many forms, including:

  • painting and drawing
  • sculpture
  • pottery and ceramics
  • dance
  • writing and poetry.

While not every rehab clinic in the UK offers art therapy, those that do may offer it in different forms depending on the availability of therapists and treatment programmes. UKAT has numerous options to choose from. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how art therapy can be applied to your treatment plan.

How Art Therapy Helps

We usually associate the group therapy portion of addiction and mental illness treatment with group discussions and counselling. And while these kinds of therapies are very effective in their own right, there are times when people struggle terribly with framing their thoughts and emotions into words. There are times when someone in recovery just cannot seem to break through because he or she cannot verbalise what is in the heart and mind. This is where art therapy is most helpful.

Art therapy offers a means of expression that enables those in recovery to visualise their thoughts and emotions, which, in some cases, eventually helps them to verbalise. Even in cases where verbal expression is not forthcoming, the ability to create art still gives an individual an outlet for the thoughts and emotions he or she is burdened with.

Although there are many ways to apply art therapy to emotional issues and addiction recovery, the three most common forms are as follows:

  • Gestalt Method – With this approach, the therapist attempts to help the patient verbalise thoughts and emotions by beginning with the creation of artwork that might express them. The goal is to provoke a deeper conversation with the patient during the creation process by encouraging him or her to describe what the artwork represents.
  • Active Imagination – The active imagination technique does not rely on a starting point of trying to uncover trapped emotions and thoughts. Rather, patients are encouraged to imagine and create any kind of work they choose. The therapist then observes what is being created and asks specific questions designed to connect individual artwork with the thoughts and emotions of the person creating it.
  • Third Hand – With this method, the therapist assists with the creation of the art while the patient directs said creation. In essence, the patient directs the hands of a therapist and, in so doing, is able to verbalise what he or she is thinking.

It is absolutely fascinating to step back and watch how the creativity of art can help people open up in ways they would never have thought possible. Art is something most people do not feel the need to hide behind. Rather, it is an open door to introspection and honesty.

For people dealing with emotional issues and mental problems, art therapy is a means of relieving stress and engaging the mind in other things in order to loosen the grip of the emotional or mental chains. Art becomes a freeing mechanism that gives the patient the freedom to think about other things not related to the problems at hand.

In terms of alcohol and drug addiction, art therapy can be a useful tool in helping the recovering addict identify the root causes of addictive behaviour. Using art as a means of self-expression, patients can explain what motivates them to use substances; they can conceptualise what triggers addictive behaviour; they can identify hidden temptations they never knew existed before.

Art in Combination with Other Therapies

One last thing we want you to know in closing is that art therapy alone is rarely enough to fully address addiction or emotional and mental problems. It is a powerful tool to address certain parts of treatment, but it is most effective when it is combined with other treatments.

Substance abusers and addicts will most definitely need to undergo medicated detox before any art therapy programme can begin. Those suffering from behavioural addictions or emotional and mental problems obviously do not need detox, but some sort of counselling therapy is usually in order. Some of the possibilities include:

  • Group Counselling – Counselling in a group setting is helpful in a number of ways. It lets patients see and understand that they are not alone in their struggles, it allows groups of patients to mutually support one another through conversation and affirmation, and it provides an outlet of accountability in that each member of the group depends on the rest for support.
  • CBT –  Formally known as cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT is one of the most effective counselling therapies in use today. It is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that establishes obtainable objectives that counsellors and their patients work through together. This therapy seeks to retrain the mind to think of addictive behaviour or emotional problems in new ways, thereby equipping the patient to avoid negative influences in the future.

The list of treatment options we have available to us makes it possible for us to help the largest number of clients possible. Should you need help with addiction problems or any kind of mental or emotional issue, we invite you to contact us. We will conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of your situation for the purposes of recommending the most appropriate treatments for you. Together, we can get you started on the road to recovery.

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If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment programme but experience a relapse within 30 days of leaving, we will welcome you back for complimentary 30 days of treatment.*

* Click here to learn more or contact UKAT directly for rehab availability.

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