One need only look at the vibrant, disturbing images of Van Gogh and the soothing, tranquil pieces of Monet to know that art can affect your mood. Art can also form the cornerstone of an impressively effective therapy regimen known as art therapy. Many Scottsdale addicts find that art therapy fills a void, helps them master new coping skills, and makes it possible to move into a life of sobriety.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy isn't a single approach. Instead, it's a collection of practices designed to focus your mind, explore your feelings, and distract you from the challenges of everyday life. Rather than creating art that must be perfect, then, art therapy is all about creating art with a purpose.
So what happens in art therapy? You'll have significant control over the process, and are free to let your therapist know what you're comfortable with and what you'd rather avoid. Some common art therapy strategies include:
- Using art to express your feelings when you don't have the words to do so. You might paint a scene that captures your pain, show your therapist which colors correlate to your feelings, or even just absentmindedly draw while talking to your therapist.
- Completing specific therapy assignments designed to shed light on your challenges. For instance, your therapist might ask you to pain a portrait of your family life.
- Using art as a distraction and diversion from your cravings.
- Building art with others as a chance to nurture deeper relationships and explore shared emotions.
Does Art Therapy Work?
Art therapy is one of the most well-studied approaches to mental health care, with dozens of studies showing its effectiveness. Research suggests that this approach to therapy is especially helpful for people with severe mental illness, children, adults with developmental delays, and people who are otherwise reticent to discuss their feelings. Art therapy is most effective when blended with a more traditional approach to therapy, such as interpersonal therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy, so to get the most out of it, be sure to commit to regular counseling sessions as well.
What if I Don't Like Art?
You don't have to like or be good at art to benefit from art therapy. Indeed, one of the many positive offerings of this approach to therapy is that it takes you outside of your comfort zone, potentially helping you explore challenging or painful emotions. Through art therapy, you'll learn that perfection does not exist, and that sharing your feelings is far more important than producing a “perfect” work of art.
If you intensely dislike art, have negative associations with the creative process, or have other reasons for not wishing to participate in art therapy, be sure to let your intake coordinator know. A good therapist will push you to try new things, but if art is upsetting or traumatic for you, there's no need to explore art therapy. At SpringBoard Recovery, art therapy is always optional, not mandatory.
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