Art Therapy Program in Addiction Recovery

Art Therapy Program in Addiction Recovery


When I first started doing this, they thought
that all chaos had broken out and they better come help me. There are papers all over the
floor, and there are things on the counter, and there are all these images from the magazines,
and it sounds like a horrible mess. But I said, “It’s okay, don’t mistake creativity
for chaos. Art therapy is a modality that includes art
media. I can’t predict it, I don’t know what’s going to happen, and there’s something so
beautiful about that. It’s never, ever repetitive. It’s not like you have a cookbook with a set
of recipes. It’s more like, “I have these things to offer, let’s see what works for
you.” Some people get kind of scared about doing
something that they haven’t done before. In the group, I would always put the art materials
out, and people could use them when they felt like they wanted to. It’s never a “have to.”
If someone doesn’t feel comfortable doing art, it is never, ever a requirement. I use art materials often in my therapeutic
work because it is a new form of communication. It’s very helpful for people who are very
intellectually defended and get stuck in the verbal. There are particular benefits for
people who work with art therapists who have these particular issues of the mind, issues
of the emotions, internal conflicts. The art work and the communication with the therapist
through art is a way of externalizing difficulties, of gaining perspective. A young woman was in the group who was having
a hard day, so I just gave her a pile of paper, and just said, “Take a color.” So she picked
black and she scribbled black until it covered the paper. It was thick and black. She did
a second one, she did a third one. She did about ten that looked like that, completely
black, completely smeared. Then, just on her own, doing this in the group with us without
talking about it, she began to make a more open kind of weave of black patterns, and
then other colors came in, then there was a lot of yellow and white and green. Pretty
soon there was just a minimal amount of black and she was relaxed, she was calm, and she
had totally expressed what was going on without saying one word. These are people who are like, “I don’t do
art, I can’t do art,” and they’re doing it. It works wonders. It seems like magic, but
it’s not; there are really things that are happening internally, physically as well as
psychologically that make a huge difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *