Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves the use of creative techniques. Unlike drawing or music classes, its primary goal is not to create a masterpiece or master creative skills. The main aim of therapy is the process of creating something fundamentally new. Through creative means, a patient can work with their own self and express to the therapist what they cannot put into words. You don’t need to have creative skills to engage in art therapy.
Art therapy is often combined with other psychotherapeutic approaches. This combination helps achieve better results in addressing trauma, removing psychological blocks, and self-discovery.
The focus of art therapy is on unconscious processes. It is based on the idea that suppressed, hidden emotions, desires, and needs are awakened through creativity. There can be many creative tools for this purpose.
Types of art therapy
- Isotherapy: perhaps the most well-known form of art therapy. A therapist can suggest a theme or allow group participants to choose one themselves. Patients work with color, texture, and composition. This type of art therapy is effective for addressing issues related to personal boundaries often violated in those struggling with addiction, as well as questions of internal and external relationships. It also develops sensorimotor skills, similar to other creative work with fine arts, water, and paper;
- Narrative therapy (Storytelling): this form of art therapy involves creating a story or fairytale based on one’s own life. This allows individuals to reach unexpected resolutions to their internal conflicts. Absence of limiting beliefs and boundless fantasy facilitate the revelation of true desires and needs;
- Sandplay therapy: creative representations in the sand can help to explore repressed emotions, inner conflicts, and suppressed feelings. Individuals create, rearrange, and destroy shapes, interacting with the therapist. The creative process helps cope with emotional states;
- Music therapy: music can profoundly affect one’s mood and enrich our inner selves. During psychotherapeutic sessions, patients may listen to music, share their emotions with the therapist and other participants, or even create melodies and play musical instruments.
Results and effectiveness in working with addicts
Art therapy can be used at the beginning of the journey to sobriety. When an addict enters a rehabilitation center, they might find it challenging to express themselves verbally or work productively with psychologists and psychotherapists. Art therapy helps individuals express their feelings non-verbally, regain emotional balance, and organize chaotic thoughts.
Many people engage in creative activities during their childhood and abandon them as they grow older. Therefore, art therapy offers a chance to be open again, to allow oneself to experience emotions, creativity, and self-expression.
The results that art therapy can deliver in working with addicts include:
- Development of communication skills;
- Enhancement of cognitive abilities;
- Development of empathy – the ability to understand and empathize with others;
- Building self-confidence;
- A deeper understanding of oneself and one’s emotions;
- Help in recognizing, accepting the illness, and succeeding in treatment;
- The abandonment of emotional repression and the accumulation of negative emotions;
- Stress reduction;
- Resolution of internal conflicts;
- Development of effective behavioral strategies.
The main condition for the effectiveness of art therapy is the qualification of the specialist conducting the therapeutic process. They can help determine the right direction, interpret emerging images and forms, and find a way out of the situation. At IsraRehab, experienced art therapists are ready to provide assistance in situations of any complexity.