According to the American Art Therapy Association, “Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals…through active art making…” Art has historical and cultural significance. Art is impactful with spiritual, mental and emotional connections. But can it help individuals dealing with alcohol or drug addiction heal? The answer may surprise you.
What is Addiction?
Most people erroneously think of addiction as a personality flaw affecting people with a lack of will power. However, the American Psychiatric Association said, “Addiction is complex condition, a brain disorder that is manifested by compulsive substance abuse despite harmful consequence.” It entails chronic behavior that is marked by relapse. It negatively affects the brain’s circuitry and impairs cognitive skills.
Treatment by Licensed Counselors
Art therapy has its foundations in art and psychology. It is managed by art therapists. Counselors have earned a master’s degree and undergone specialized training. In the United States, art therapists have received state licensure and registration and certification from the Art Therapists Certification Board.
Art therapists help diverse groups of people heal from psychological trauma. Individuals with mental illness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance abuse, and survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence are helped with this specific type of therapy.
Goals of Art Therapy
Art therapists provide assessments, treatment plans and summaries. Their patient and ethical treatment helps kids,adults and theur families. Individuals learn to express their feelings through all forms of artistic expression ranging from music, dance and various mediums of art. Individuals use clay, thread, crayons and paint to make meaningful pieces. As individuals learn to communicate effectively, they gain a sense of control. Here are some of the measurable results of therapy.
- Improved cognitive and analytical abilities
- Honed hand-eye coordination and motor functioning
- Higher self-awareness, self-esteem and confidence
- Better social skills and relationships
- Less stress
- Increased problem solving and cultivation of resiliance
- Increased creativity and playfulness
Evidence of Improvement
Studies have proven the success of art therapy as a way to communicate events patients can’t address verbally. The journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse published “The Effectiveness of Art Therapy in the Treatment of Traumatized Adults in 2014. Researchers reported, “In half of the studies, a significant decrease in psychological trauma symptoms are found in the treatment groups and..” significant decrease in depression.”
Art Therapy Recognized as Mental Health Specialization
There are 23.5 million people in the U.S. dealing with substance abuse. As mental healh professionals search for new and improved treatments, art therapy will continue to gain acceptance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites 12,000 art therapists in 2014.
At the Soba Addiction Recovery Center, we offer a variety of therapies for individuals dealing with alcohol and drug abuse. Our art therapy includes classes are for individuals at all levels. Instructors have experience in clinical settings and have a record of success with substance abuse clients.