How is Art Therapy a Healthy Outlet?

How is Art Therapy a Healthy Outlet?

Art therapy is a healthy outlet that can prompt healing and growth during treatment

Art therapy is a relatively new offering for addiction treatment. The American Art Therapy Association[1] defines art therapy as, “the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by individuals who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living, and by those who seek personal development.” Art therapy benefits anyone seeking clarity, calm or direction in life. It benefits anyone seeking recovery from LSD or other addiction.

Art therapy is not a sole or primary treatment option for addiction or mental health issues. It is a beneficial complementary therapy. Detox, group therapy, behavior therapy and talk therapy remain important components of any treatment plan. When art therapy is used in conjunction with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and other evidence-based practices, it can support a lasting and rewarding recovery.

What Does Art Therapy Involve?

You do not have to be passionate about a certain type of art to benefit from art therapy. Art therapy involves different creative practices such as the following:

  • Painting
  • Sculpting
  • Drawing
  • Creating collages
  • Writing poetry or prose
  • Dancing
  • Acting

You can choose a visual art, a movement-based art, creative writing or a combination of any and all practices that interest you. Recovery is a time to explore and practice. Recovery involves moving forward and experiencing life, and art therapy can help enrich and develop this new, sober life. The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette[2] explains that art therapy, “…classes allow the clients to think in a different light and expose them to more positive aspects of life instead of dealing with the consequences of poor choices they have made in the past.” Addiction treatment and recovery are positive practices and actions, and art therapy can help you find and embrace this positivity. The overall objective is not the finished art product or performance. Art therapy is about the process of self-expression and healing.

Self-Expression and Art Therapy

You may find it difficult to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions or to even identify them within yourself. This is a common result of substance abuse and mental health issues. Individuals struggling with addiction may not trust themselves or others, may not understand how they feel or understand how to put their feelings into words, or may be ashamed or afraid to disclose emotions or thoughts. You may be facing serious internal conflicts or ambivalence, or you may struggle to manage overwhelming emotions no longer masked by drug use. Talking isn’t always an option. Early in recovery and before you have learned and practiced communication skills, you may simple not know how to talk. MinnPost[3] explains, “Art therapy helps because it works on different transmitters. It can be crucial treatment because challenges often come from the verbal and emotional parts of the brain, while the arts access different areas.” When you feel stuck, challenged or stressed about one area of life or recovery, art therapy can help you access another. Using different parts of the brain and finding healthy means of distraction and action can reduce stress and depression and help you cope with potential drug use triggers. Self-expression helps you learn more about who and where you are and where you want to go in life. Art therapy allows you to build trust and rapport with a therapist, with your peers, and with yourself. It helps you establish self-confidence and self-awareness. Art therapy is designed to promote self-discovery, personal fulfillment, stress relief, pain management and self-empowerment.

Who Benefits From Art Therapy?

Art therapy is for everyone, not just the artistically inclined. Every individual has the ability to be creative and create. Art therapy is not about creating a final product much less a masterpiece. It is about learning, healing and growing. Art therapy helps individuals recover from anxiety issues, depression, sexual or physical abuse, PTSD and addiction. It may also have physical benefits, important for those struggling with both addiction and pain or other health concerns. Psychology Today[4] reveals, “Art therapy enhances the psychosocial treatment of cancer, including decreased symptoms of distress, improved quality of life and perceptions of body image, reduction of pain perception, and general physical and psychological health.” Art therapy helps the body and mind. It can help you heal emotionally, physically and spiritually. It may even lead to finding new passions and hobbies that will continue to enrich your life long after addiction treatment ends.

Art Therapy and Other Treatment Options

If you would like to learn more about art therapy and other treatment options for addiction and mental health issues, please call our toll-free helpline. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can answer questions, address concerns and offer needed information. We can connect you to the best professional treatment services across the nation. You can recover. Whether you still have questions or are ready to find treatment today, call and let us help.


[1]    http://arttherapy.org/aata-aboutus/. “About Us.” The American Art Therapy Association. Apr 2008. Web. 24 Jun 2016.

[2]    http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/story/news/local/2016/06/25/daco-art-class-helps-recovery/86247322/. “DACO Art Class Helps in Recovery.” Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. 26 Jun 2016. Web. 26 Jun 2016.

[3]    https://www.minnpost.com/mental-health-addiction/2015/08/art-therapys-impact-i-painted-myself-out-hell. “Art Therapy’s Impact: ‘I Painted Myself Out of Hell.’” MinnPost. 12 Aug 2015. Web. 26 Jun 2016.

[4]    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201302/yes-virginia-there-is-some-art-therapy-research. “Yes, Virginia, There Is Some Art Therapy Research.” Psychology Today. 27 Feb 2013. Web. 26 Jun 2016.