There are many different forms of treatment that addiction treatment specialists will use to help treat your addiction. This is because of the complexity of addiction and all the factors that help cause addiction to occur that you need to address. One factor that often causes people to start abusing substances is poor mental health. Therefore, the best addiction treatment programs will offer forms of treatment that will also help improve your mental health. One form of treatment that benefits both the physical and mental health of its patients is art therapy. This is evident in the fact that many of the mental health and addiction treatment benefits of art therapy overlap.
To help you understand why you should attend an addiction treatment program with art therapy in it, we’re going to go over all of the mental health and addiction treatment benefits of art therapy. We’ll also go into detail about what exactly art therapy entails.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is the use of art in a therapeutic manner. When using art therapy in an addiction treatment program, an addiction treatment specialist will likely supervise your art therapy session. Although it’s sometimes supervised when done in rehab, you can perform art therapy on your own. As long as you enjoy the type of art you’re doing, you’re using art therapy the right way.
Types of Art Therapy
There are varying forms of art therapy. This is because “art” itself is a very broad term. Essentially, art is any form of expression that uses creativity. By this definition, any visual, auditory, or kinesthetic form of creativity is art. Therefore, any of these art forms that provide therapeutic benefits is art therapy.
Some examples of the different ways that you can use art as therapy include:
- Playing or listening to music
- Graphic journaling
Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy
Like all forms of therapy, art therapy is beneficial to your mental health. This is because it provides a distraction from the stresses of regular life. This, in turn, allows you to relieve any pent-up stress. To learn other ways that art therapy can improve your mental health, continue reading.
It Allows Self-Expression
Art therapy is also beneficial to mental health because it provides an avenue for you to express your emotions and frustrations. Doing so is therapeutic because society often doesn’t give people the freedom to express their true emotions.
Human emotions are layered and complex. As a result, many people repress their emotions. In fact, many people who participate in art therapy don’t even realize what they truly feel about certain situations until they express it through art. Therefore, art therapy is a great tool to use to dive into your mind and discover new things about yourself.
It Provides a Self-Esteem Boost
One of the other mental health benefits of art therapy is that it can boost your self-esteem. This is because completing a piece of art can give you a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, gives you something to be proud of. On top of that, many people with mental health disorders, such as depression, struggle with low self-esteem. Therefore, using art as a therapeutic tool to boost your self-esteem will only help treat any mental illness that you may have.
It Can Lead You to a Career
Another way that art therapy can boost your self-esteem is by giving you a new skill. Many people who participate in different forms of art therapy discover a form of art that they’re good at. Some of these people may find that they are so good at a form of art that they choose to take on a career path that utilizes that skill set. By gaining a new skill and a career, these people’s lives are forever changed for the better.
It Helps You Feel Pleasure
Art therapy is particularly beneficial for people who struggle with mental illnesses such as depression because creating art is enjoyable. Therefore, it will release pleasure feeling neurotransmitters in your mind, such as dopamine.
You Can Use It As a Coping Mechanism
You can also use the practice of creating art as a healthy way to cope with life. Coping mechanisms are often necessary for people that suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety.
It Helps Slow Your Mind Down
Another way that art therapy can help people suffering from anxiety is by slowing down the mind. This is because art therapy distracts anxious people with racing thoughts. Art therapy can also help slow down the thoughts in your mind by being a calming activity.
It Can Help You Build Relationships
Another mental health benefit of art therapy that we would like to mention is the ability it can give you to bond with other people. This is especially true when art therapy is done in a group format.
By giving you an activity to talk about and bond with other people over, you can improve your social skills and make friends. This too is beneficial for people with depression as they often seclude themselves from others. Also, having fun while socializing with others is another way to increase your dopamine levels.
Addiction Treatment Benefits of Art Therapy
By improving your mental health, art therapy can also help treat addiction. This is evident in the fact that most people suffering from addiction started abusing drugs because they were struggling with mental illness. Therefore, mental illness is often something that you must address while in addiction treatment. That’s why we here at Harmony Ridge provide dual diagnosis treatment.
On top of that, many of the mental health benefits of art therapy overlap with the ways that it can benefit addiction treatment. To help you understand how art therapy benefits addiction treatment, we’ve described it below.
It Helps Your Brain Release Dopamine
One of the addiction treatment benefits of art therapy that we’ve mentioned in the mental health section is its ability to make your brain release dopamine. This is beneficial for people in addiction treatment because chronic substance abuse changes your brain chemistry in a way that causes many of your neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, to no longer function properly.
As a result, the brains of many addicts become dependent on substances to release dopamine and feel any pleasure. Therefore, art therapy’s ability to help your brain naturally release dopamine again is highly beneficial for those in addiction treatment.
It Helps Foster Self-Discovery
Another way that art therapy improves your mental health while also benefiting people in addiction treatment is by helping you learn more about yourself. This is because people that suffer from addiction often lose themselves in their drug habit. As a result, their perception of themselves is often skewed. Thus, getting the opportunity to experience some self-discovery through art therapy is beneficial for people in addiction treatment.
It Helps Foster Change
Art therapy can also help foster change in people in addiction treatment. This is because art therapy helps them open up and express their feelings. Once it does that, it also helps them self-reflect. The action of opening up combined with the action of self-reflection leads to those in addiction treatment being open to listening to suggestions about ways to change their lives for the better.
It Improves Self-Esteem
Something else that often gets skewed in the minds of people in addiction treatment is their self-esteem. Thus, art therapy’s ability to boost their self-esteem by giving them a new skill and a newfound sense of accomplishment is huge for people in addiction treatment.
It Provides a Coping Mechanism
Something else that’s huge for people in addiction treatment is art therapy’s ability to function as a coping mechanism. This is big for those in addiction treatment because going through withdrawal symptoms while trying to stop using drugs and learn about yourself is almost too much to cope with. Therefore, attending art therapy as a coping method will help those in addiction treatment avoid a relapse.
It Provides an Easy Way to Communicate
When people first enter addiction treatment, they are often hesitant to communicate with others. This is partly because of the overwhelming nature of addiction treatment. Therefore, one of the addiction treatment benefits of art therapy is the way that it provides patients with the ability to communicate through visuals. This can help addiction treatment patients break down their walls until they’re ready to communicate verbally.
Visual Art Therapy Techniques Used in Addiction Treatment
One major way that addiction treatment specialists use art therapy is visually. As we just mentioned, visual art therapy provides a way to spark communication amongst addiction treatment patients. There are three major techniques addiction treatment therapists use when visually communicating with patients through art therapy. We’ve described these three techniques below.
In the Gestalt method of visual communication, a therapist will use artwork as a tool to introduce deep conversation. Through the Gestalt method, the therapist will ask the patient to describe the artwork from the artwork’s point of view.
Through the active imagination technique of visual communication, the therapist will use artwork as a tool to spark introspective discussion from the patient. This is done by having the patient talk about the thoughts that pop up in his or her mind after looking at the artwork.
In this form of art therapy, the therapist will assist the patient in creating artwork. By collaborating on artwork together, the therapist and the patient will hopefully bond and easily communicate with one another.
Who Benefits Most from Art Therapy?
Anyone can reap the benefits of art therapy. Its benefits make it particularly beneficial though for people that suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and trauma, such as the loss of a loved one. We also recommend using art therapy as a complementary form of treatment in rehab.
Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is Here to Help You
If you live in West Virginia or Mid-Ohio, there is no need to search “art therapy near me” on your phone, as we provide the best alternative forms of addiction treatment and therapy right here at Harmony Ridge. In fact, all of our addiction treatment and holistic therapy practices are evidence-based.
Our therapy programs come in individual, group, and family formats. You can use whichever form of therapy that best serves your needs. We also provide specialized detox and addiction treatment programs for a wide variety of substances.
To learn more about our addiction treatment and therapy services, contact us anytime. Our 24-hour helpline is always available.