Journey’s addiction treatment program is based on the understanding that no two people are alike. Some respond to talk therapy, others need a more experiential approach, and most benefit from both. That’s why Journey’s therapists employ a combination of evidence-based treatments and complementary approaches, designed to help clients develop a better understanding of both the cognitive and emotional components contributing to their addiction.
One such complementary approach is art therapy. Art therapy is a well-established healing modality that helps people process emotions and work through internal conflicts. If the word “art” makes you nervous or feels like pressure to be artistic, don’t worry. In art therapy, there is no pressure to be an artist, or even make things that anyone else will ever see. The idea behind creating artwork as part of therapy has more to do with the therapy part than it does the art part. The final product matters much less than your process, both in creating the piece and in understanding or “processing” the piece with your therapist. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
Traditional therapy engages the verbal parts of your brain. You talk in your sessions, whether you are working on developing insight into your past or practicing cognitive-behavioral strategies for managing difficult emotions. Art therapy is one type of expressive therapy—these are psychotherapeutic modalities designed to engage with other parts of your brain, not just the verbal part. The idea behind expressive therapies is that for some people, and for some problems, words just don’t reach the area that needs healing. Art, music, dance or creative movement can be avenues toward accessing these other parts of you that words don’t reach as easily.
The Process or the Product?
Sometimes the process of creating art is the healing intervention. One technique sometimes employed with children that demonstrates how the actual process of creating “art” might be therapeutic involves having the child color an entire piece of paper black. The child is told to color all the “mad” out, making the black on the paper symbolize the angry feelings inside. While this is a very simplistic example of how the process of creating art can be transformed into therapy, for adults these types of experiences are not uncommon, even with more sophisticated interventions.
Sometimes after the piece of artwork is created, the therapeutic moment happens in a conversation format with the therapist. Talking about the process and the result re-engages the verbal part of the brain and in this working together of the verbal and the nonverbal the “ah-ha” moment can happen. Speak Confidentially with a Journey Advisor at 844-878-1979.
Sometimes the process of creating artwork is more about creating a state of mindfulness and deep peace, in which the rest of the world—thoughts, worries or anxiety, powerful negative emotions—drops away and you experience a peacefulness not unlike meditation or the zone athletes sometimes describe, where they feel profoundly calm and in tune with their surroundings.
There are many different ways to benefit from art therapy and all can be positive and healing parts of recovery.