What is Art Therapy?

What is Art Therapy?

Art is a fundamental part of human nature. We’ve been producing art for millennia. From cave drawings to Van Gogh’s Starry Night, people have almost always used art to express thoughts, feelings, and emotions. When words fail, art can illuminate what’s going on inside. Sadly, many adults give up art as they get older and other responsibilities take over. Getting back in touch with your artistic self through art therapy can help you deal with a variety of issues, from trauma to addiction.

What are Some Types of Art Therapy?

The most important thing to know going into art therapy is that art doesn’t have to be a beautiful painting or a perfect drawing. In fact, the word “art” is a loose term that allows for a wide variety of options.

Some of the most common types of art therapy include:

  • Coloring in an adult coloring book
  • Sculpting or pottery throwing
  • Creating collages
  • Dance
  • Playing or listening to music

While dance and music are not strict forms of art therapy, they can fall under the umbrella and are equally beneficial. Ultimately, the point of art therapy is to give people a way to express themselves that doesn’t involve typical talk therapy.

What to Expect in an Art Therapy Session

A qualified art therapist will tell you first and foremost not to judge yourself or be afraid to express yourself through art. Nobody is expecting you to be the next Picasso. Your art is unique to you and can be a powerful tool in your therapist’s arsenal for diagnosing and treating any psychological issues.

Your first session is an information gathering session, as with most types of therapy. Your art therapist will assess what brought you to art therapy, what you’re hoping to get out of your journey, and begin drawing up a treatment plan for you.

After that, you’ll begin working on art. Your therapist may talk to you or ask you questions as they observe what you’re creating. At times, they may also just silently observe and allow you to create. Once you finish your piece of art, your therapist will ask you about how you felt while creating the art and if it brought up anything for you.

Generally, they’ll gather information about what the process did for you before providing any feedback, observations, or judgements.

Why Art Therapy Works

Art therapists undergo training in classic therapy techniques as well as art therapy so that they can really understand the role that art therapy plays in understanding and healing. Their training allows them to analyze colors, textures, patterns, and more for underlying meaning.

Additionally, the act of doing art can be therapeutic all on its own. It promotes mindfulness and engages a different part of the brain than most day-to-day activities. When you do art therapy, you can unlock your own perceptions of the world around you while expressing and showing your inner world.

Art therapy is particularly useful for people who have experienced the following:

  • Addiction
  • Emotional trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Domestic abuse or violence

Art Therapy and Addiction Treatment

When treating addiction, it’s important to remember that this disease doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It isn’t a purely physical issue. Instead, it has emotional and psychological connotations. To begin healing, it is critical to address all parts of the addiction.

Art therapy and other holistic therapies help people dealing with substance use disorders understand themselves and express themselves in ways that they may not normally be comfortable with. Self-expression and understanding are both important parts of the healing process.

Coupled with traditional therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR, holistic treatments like art therapy can play a crucial role in lifelong recovery. If you or a loved one is currently dealing with addiction and would like more information about the programs at RAIN Recovery, give us a call today at (818) 208-9446 or fill out the form online to speak to an admissions counselor.

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