Exploring Expressive Arts Therapy in Addiction Recovery

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Scientific research has recently pivoted to the many benefits of holistic programs like expressive arts therapy in addiction recovery. But what is art therapy for addiction? Is it only something for artistic people, and what are its benefits? 

What is Expressive Arts Therapy in Addiction Recovery?

Addiction recovery art doesn’t need any type of skill or artistic knowledge to be useful. Art therapy and addiction recovery incorporate several expressive therapies, such as:

  • Visual arts
  • Creative writing
  • Humor
  • Drama
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Sound
  • Movement
  • Paint
  • Watercolors
  • Clay
  • Paper mache 

In essence, art therapy for addiction incorporates one or more of these expressive therapies as well as imagination and playfulness in integrative ways through psychotherapy and counseling. 

Benefits of Art Therapy and Addiction Recovery

Art therapy has proven very useful in the healing process of substance abuse. 

For some clients, art therapy provides a better medium for emotional expression, especially for male clients who might feel uncomfortable sitting in a room and talking about their feelings. 

For other clients, art therapy provides an easier way to connect with emotions that may not have been recognized and to tell a story of trauma or previous experiences that contributed to substance abuse. 

  • Singing, drumming, and moving your body are all ways of self-regulation that can be particularly useful in dealing with trauma
  • Being in the same space with others, who might be drawing, singing, moving, and stretching, can increase socialization, which reconciles feelings of isolation common in addiction recovery
  • Drawing or painting can help ease anxiety symptoms or depression, giving you a sense of control when your life feels out of control

How Does Art Therapy for Addiction Work?

Integration is key. Symptoms, behaviors, pain, or suffering can be tackled with several forms of art, such as play, sound, dramatic enactments, and other expressive art forms, blended in different ways to make an expression of emotions a lot more helpful. 

Art therapy for substance abuse can help restore self-compassion and positive feelings. 

Art therapy is something used in conjunction with other psychotherapy, like talk therapy. While therapy is useful, and it allows clients to talk about issues, pain, struggle, or trauma, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors can’t talk someone into improved self-compassion. People need to experience those feelings for themselves, and that is achieved through expressive arts therapy in addiction recovery. 

Making gestures, moving the body, and other simple ways of expressing yourself physically can encourage social engagement, curiosity, playtime, self-regulation, and imagination, all of which serve as important components in addressing trauma, restoring components of yourself, and helping with the healing process. 

Do I Have to Be Creative or Artistic?

One of the many things that people worry about, especially before their first session, is whether they have to be creative or artistic for this type of therapy to work. 

The answer is absolutely not. 

There is no artistic requirement behind participating in addiction recovery art. Even creative people have days when they don’t feel creative, but everyone can draw a line or make a mark on a piece of paper, wave their hand, or move their body in some gesture or another. These small things are all ways of being expressive. 

Expression is a human behavior. Curiosity has always existed, and it helps us let go of fear and trauma. 

What Should I Expect During a Session?

While you might be apprehensive at first, realizing that there is no pressure to be artistic or creative and that there are several ways to be expressive can help alleviate some of that fear and boost your curiosity. At The Differents, our team works hard to ensure clients get holistic care on their schedules with several inpatient and outpatient programs. Our trusted drug rehab in Reno offers an idyllic location where nature inspires relaxation and artistic expression. 

Curiosity and fear are opposite feelings. Once you become curious about arts therapy, what to expect next, what other forms of creativity or expression you might use, and how they might make you feel, you are opening yourself up to curiosity and doing away with fear. The fear you might experience will only serve to hold you back from achieving true healing in your sessions.

Discover Arts Therapy at The Differents 

Expressive arts therapy is a form of treatment that incorporates different art forms to help boost emotional expression, play, imagination, and healing. There are several forms, and participants don’t need to be creative or artistic to reap the benefits. Don’t worry about being pressured. Your therapist will work with you to find the right combination of integrative arts for your circumstances, and they will guide you through simple starting points like drawing, writing, moving figures around on a computer screen, painting something, or acting something out.If you are ready to learn more about our addiction treatment center in Nevada, our approach to substance abuse treatment in Reno, and how we incorporate art into recovery, call our team today.

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