Holistic Treatment in Recovery: Art Therapy

Holistic Treatment in Recovery: Art Therapy

Traditional therapies are an essential component of treatment plans for addiction and mental health disorders. At Casa Recovery, we also believe that experiential therapies round out your treatment and can fill in the gaps that other therapies miss. Art therapy is a professionally guided session in which you will have the chance to express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions through various art projects. You don’t need any experience to participate, and your work won’t be judged. Art therapy is all about your personal experience with whatever medium you chose to communicate your thoughts and feelings. This is not a replacement for psychotherapy techniques such as group therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), but a supplement to them.

What Types of Disorders Can Art Therapy Treat?

This form of experiential therapy is used to manage mental health disorders and psychological distress. The following are some problems that art can help you work through to find relief and clarity:

Treating Mental Health & Substance Abuse With Art Therapy

If you have a mental illness or substance use disorder (SUD), you can also benefit from art therapy. Both substance use and mental illness often develops when a person abuses drugs or alcohol to deal with pervasive problems stemming from childhood or devastating life experiences. Painful emotions such as fear and shame can get bottled up for a long time and lead to maladaptive behaviors and substance use. When a person gets used to dealing with their feelings this way, it can be very challenging to learn to open up once in treatment. Art therapy can be used to communicate these difficult emotions in a less overwhelming way, as well as explore different aspects of their personalities to find their strengths and work through weaknesses. In other words, because art therapy encourages self-expression, it helps people resolve internal conflicts without needing to discuss them the entire session.

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

Learning to resolve internal issues with more patience and understanding is a key part of any type of therapy. What makes art therapy different than traditional therapies is that you have a chance to let your imagination run wild. Allowing your mental processes to flow without being blocked by the need for words can be cathartic and freeing. The connection between your mind, body, and spirit is nurtured as your hands work to manifest your desires and fears in a painting or sculpture. Your psyche may also contain thoughts and feelings that you didn’t know you had. Reflecting on your work may reveal things deep inside your subconscious, such as memories, that can help you piece together things and people in your life and the role they have played in shaping who you are today. When you can get a better grasp on why you feel and behave a certain way, you can start to make changes to support your recovery.

Benefits of Art Therapy

  • Promoting insight
  • Enhancing social skills
  • Cultivating emotional resilience
  • Fostering self-esteem and self-awareness
  • Reducing distress and resolving conflicts
  • Improving cognitive and sensorimotor functions

The Role of Your Art Therapist

Your therapist plays an important role in guiding this creative endeavor in either an individual or group setting. Although you may learn some new art techniques and skills from them, this is not the overall goal of art therapy. Your therapist is concerned with helping you materialize and understand mental images and thought processes. They are trained to understand what the colors and textures you chose and the shapes you create say about your psychological and emotional state. After you have completed the project — and sometimes during — our therapist will likely ask how you felt during the process and if any emotions or memories came to you. They might examine the final product and ask why certain details were made to help you reveal messages and symbolism that made it out of your subconscious and into your creation. Your therapist will wait until you have analyzed the work before they share their own observations.

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Types of Art Projects

  • Drawing
  • Collages
  • Painting
  • Sculpting
  • Modeling
  • Coloring
  • Finger painting

Experience Art Therapy at Casa Recovery in Orange County, California

If you have ever seen a timeless art piece such as The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, you might feel intimidated by the idea of creating something that will probably not match up to the work produced by this historical artist. However, there is no reason to hold yourself to such a standard; this is art therapy, not an art competition. Art therapy is a different kind of creative endeavor, one that was not designed to produce artists — it is for people who need help dealing with their concerns in a non-verbal way. There is a chance that art therapy may not be right for you. Maybe you’ve tried it before but it didn’t improve your condition. Perhaps you just don’t have the patience for it, and that’s okay. Creativity is a vast world of possibilities, and art therapy is just one outlet for you to express yourself. Casa Recovery offers other creative and nontraditional therapies that might meet your needs and interests. You can find them here

Art therapy provides the space for self-expression and deep reflection. Clients with addiction and mental health issues, or who have experienced traumatic stress, may have difficulties finding the words to communicate how they’re feeling and can benefit from art therapy. Learn about how Casa Recovery’s art therapy program can help you by calling us at (888) 928-2272.


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Casa Recovery offers a wide range of treatment options for those struggling with mental health and co-occurring issues. We are here for you and ready to assist in any way we can. Contact us right now to get the help you deserve from a group of people who care.