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Find healing through creativity and expression

Art Therapy for

The use of art therapy for addiction and mental health began in the 1950s and has rapidly increased over time as a way to address both the symptoms and underlying causes of substance use disorders. [1] As part of Infinite Recovery’s holistic approach to addiction recovery, we offer art therapy and other supplemental therapies for clients in our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Our weekly art curriculum includes activities such as painting and creating vision boards.

Art therapy

What is Art Therapy?

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Art therapy is a complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practice that is often used in mental health and addiction treatment settings. Like other CAM practices, such as music therapy and acupuncture, it is a non-mainstream treatment that is typically used to supplement or sometimes replace conventional, evidence-based treatment methods. [1]

Art therapy sessions are facilitated by art therapists and use creative self-expression, art-making and psychological theory to help support treatment goals. [2] They can take place in a group format or one-on-one with an art therapist. Common environments that an art therapist might work in include nursing homes and senior centers with older adults, hospitals, veterans’ clinics, public health settings, medical treatment centers, and alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers.

There are many forms art therapy can take, including drawing, painting, sculpting, journaling, photography and collage. Depending on the practitioner, art therapy may also include elements of dance, drama, literature and music.

Red-Blue Painting

Benefits of Art Therapy for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery

Art and creative expression have been utilized in treatment settings for more than 70 years to help alleviate symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse. Art therapy works by engaging the mind and body in unique ways that cannot be accessed through verbal processing. [2] By activating the right hemisphere of the brain, providing sensory input, and offering alternate modes of communication, art therapy helps individuals process their thoughts and feelings in new ways.

Research suggests that creating art and engaging in the creative process can result in many benefits for those with mental health disorders or addiction, including:

  • Decreasing denial
  • Providing a communication outlet
  • Lowering opposition to addiction treatment
  • Decreasing shame [1]

Like many creative therapies, art therapy and artistic expression have also been shown to boost self-esteem and self awareness, improve social skills, relieve stress and contribute to a heightened state of mental well-being. [3] It can be particularly useful for those who have a difficult time expressing their thoughts and emotions verbally, or who find relief and joy in the creative process.

Types of Mental Illness an Art Therapist Can Treat

Substance abuse patients often present with co-occurring mental health disorders. There are a number of mental illnesses that art therapists are trained to recognize and treat. These include: [5]

  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

Substance abuse and addiction often stem from underlying mental and emotional issues, such emotional trauma, a history of abuse, overwhelming emotions, unhealthy relationship dynamics, low self esteem, and mental disorders such as anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. It is not always easy for individuals struggling with these issues to express their inner experience or rationally process what they are going through. They may lack the emotional resilience and coping skills to work through their triggers in a healthy way and be used to numbing their feelings with drugs or alcohol.

Art therapists can support the substance abuse treatment process by offering alternative ways to understand and process emotional and psychological symptoms. They are trained in identifying and treating mental health problems and substance use disorder in innovative ways that supplement other treatments, such as talk therapy.

What to Expect in an Art Therapy Session

Infinite Recovery provides art therapy classes every Saturday as part of our comprehensive substance abuse treatment programs. Our art therapists utilize a number of active art making techniques to help clients get in touch with their creative sides and process their thoughts and feelings. Each activity is designed to activate the senses in a way that allows for emotional processing or emotional release as well as having an overall calming effect
During an art therapy session, a therapist or facilitator will provide a general overview of the particular activity and provide instruction on how to use the materials. However, they will also allow plenty of room for creative interpretation and for clients to customize the process in a way that feels best to them. One of the benefits of art therapy is that there really is no “wrong” way to do it.

To learn more about what art therapy at Infinite Recovery entails or to get more details about any of our treatment programs, contact us today.

Common Art Therapy Techniques

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy involves kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual and symbolic modes of communication that engage the mind and body in ways that are distinct from verbal communication alone. [4] Sessions are led by an art therapist with a master’s degree and professional credentials who are guided by specific ethical standards.

Our art therapy sessions can include drawing self portraits, creating a cost-benefits collage, non-dominant hand drawing, practicing sensorimotor functions, and expressing strong emotions through visual arts. Depending on the context of the art therapy session, the art therapist may or may not have the client reflect on the completed art piece or on the process of creating art itself. Sometimes these reflections can be further unpacked using talk therapy or in another therapeutic setting with a trained professional.

About Our Alternative Therapeutic Services

In addition to art therapy, Infinite Recovery offers a number of traditional and alternative therapeutic services to support emotional and mental health. Because addiction and mental illness can manifest in so many different ways and require complex and personalized treatment plans, we believe in providing a range of options to supplement our core programming of 12-step-based group meetings and individual therapy. If one type of therapy doesn’t resonate with a particular individual, they have several other modalities to experience and utilize for their healing.

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Woman consults with art therapy specialist
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Individualized Treatment from a Caring Team

During treatment, each client is assigned a therapist as well as a case manager and a recovery support specialist who work collaboratively to develop individualized goals. This is a collaborative process, empowering the client to take an active role in their recovery and involving family members and loved ones when appropriate.

Our customized treatment plans are based on mental health assessments conducted during intake as well as measurement-based tools and validated scales that help track progress. By addressing the root cause of addictive behavior, providing holistic treatment methods, and offering a full continuum of care, we have earned some of the highest success rates in the industry.

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Recovery Today

If you or a loved one are seeking art therapy services for addiction or a mental health disorder as part of your recovery journey, reach out to Infinite Recovery today. Our comprehensive treatment programs help individuals heal on a body, mind and spirit level as they uncover the underlying causes of their addiction and come to terms with their past so they can build a better future.

We utilize weekly art therapy in conjunction with individual counseling, group therapy, physical fitness, mindfulness and other therapeutic practices in a safe and supportive treatment setting.

Infinite Recovery accepts most major insurance carriers as an in-network provider for every level of care, including medical detox, partial hospitalization, residential rehab and outpatient services. To verify your insurance coverage or find out if Infinite Recovery would be a good fit for you or a family member, speak with a member of our admissions team today.

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