Art Therapy: 7 Benefits of Being Creative in Rehab

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

One of the common reasons that an addict procrastinates entering rehab is this myth of a one-size-fits all solution. However, there a number of modern rehab facilities offer therapy alternatives that tackle two crucial keys to sobriety: uncovering the cause of the individual’s addiction and teaching new life skills in order to effectively deal with substance abuse triggers. These alternative programs may include yoga or meditation. However, the most widely utilized alternative or supplement to traditional counseling is art therapy.

Benefits of Art Therapy in Rehab

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) defines art therapy as the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development.

Over the years, through creative mediums such as drawing, painting, writing or sculpting, art therapy has been proven to have a number of positive life-changing benefits during rehab. Here’s a look at seven benefits creativity offers during – and long after – rehab.

Benefit #1 Visual Communication

The first days of rehab can be a challenge. Let’s face it; communicating with a staff of professionals, all of whom are strangers, about very personal details can prove difficult. Providing art therapy as an alternative gives recovering addicts, in a way, another voice. Exploring an alternate means of communication gives those who are having trouble communicating another way to work through those tough emotions.

Benefit #2 Personal Breakthroughs

Embracing visual communication in art therapy helps people to work through difficult experiences. Someone who shows progress in art therapy will generally begin to rediscover self-worth and build trust with therapists. Both are personal breakthroughs, or milestones, that are crucial to ongoing addiction recovery.

Benefit #3 Self-Reflection

Addiction tends to cause a distorted reality about, not only a person’s environment or circumstances, but about themselves. In art therapy, doll building is a self-reflecting exercise that is done throughout the course of rehabilitation. As one progress through the program, an improved sense of self will begin to appear in the doll.

Benefit #4 Self-Confidence

Lack of self-esteem is a common cause of addiction. How we view ourselves dictates how we conduct ourselves and live our lives. Creative projects in art therapy will, at the end of each completed assignment, provide a sense of accomplishment and progression. Also, activities such as drawing and color unlock the inner child in us all, which may lead one to distress and focus on happier times.

Benefit #5 Emotional Healing

One exercise that is commonly used in art therapy is making affirmation cards. Blank pieces of paper or index cards are turned into daily a positive reinforcement that furthers an addict’s emotional healing. Simple statements like, “I am healthy,” “I am loved,” or “I believe in myself,” is referred to as Cognitive Behavior Therapy. CBT, through consistent exercise, positively adjusts a person’s negative emotions to positive ones.

Benefit #6 Self-Discovery

A positive life changing experience can dramatically alter a person’s life path. For instance, some people who have lost a lot of weight may go on to become health advocate or personal trainers. Art therapy has the potential of unlocking untapped talents for potential future art therapists, sobriety support or addiction education advocates. When one experiences an event that changes their life for the better, they often want to share that experience with others.

Benefit #7 Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is an important component of rehab. Once out of treatment, any number of triggers in social situations will appear in day-to-day scenarios. Working through these temptations via creative expression is a skill that can benefit those in recovery for the rest of their lives. The art therapy exercises that once empowered us to overcome our addictions can ultimately help us to maintain our sobriety.
Additional Reading: 7 of the World’s Most Unique Rehab Centers

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