White House Recovery and Detox has a wide variety of alternative treatments, including art therapy. You can use your creativity to connect with your emotions and learn to manage them. There are many mediums used during art therapy, including those listed below. 

  • Sculpting
  • Drawing
  • Coloring
  • Painting
  • Pottery   
  • Paper mache
  • Handcrafts

In 2010 an article published by the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association concluded: “preliminary examination of the data indicates that participants using [art therapy] make fewer phone calls to medical and mental health providers; require fewer referrals to medical specialists; have a decreased number of somatic symptoms and complaints; and reduce their utilization of medical and mental health services.”

Art Therapy


What is Art Therapy? 

Art therapy can involve various activities, such as creating artistic pieces or observing art. Sometimes your therapist might combine creative exercises with psychotherapy as a way to improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Every therapist will have their own preferences and approach because there is very little standardization currently within the field of art therapy. One advantage of this is that your therapist can easily tailor art therapy to your specific needs and goals. 

During a session, you will work one-on-one or in a group with a therapist. They will direct you and sometimes incorporate psychotherapy techniques. Here are a few examples of common exercises used during art therapy:

  • Create a visual representation of your emotions or a specific emotion like anger or sadness
  • Create a collage with words and images using multiple mediums to express an idea or emotion
  • Build a comforting item using various textiles
  • Follow a worksheet that outlines a project with an accompanying psychotherapeutic technique that provides insight into your thoughts and feelings

The Benefits of Art Therapy

A meta-analysis of data looking at the effectiveness of art therapy published in the journal Health Technology Assessment reported that clinical art therapy resulted in improvement among the majority of participants in the following areas:

  • Mood
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of distress
  • Quality of life
  • Coping ability
  • Self-esteem

Some clinical studies have recorded a decrease in the number of hospital and clinic visits related to mental and physical distress for people who took part in art therapy. In standardized areas of art therapy, there is a consistently positive effect. Non-standardized forms of art therapy still make a significant impact; however, it is less consistent. 

How Can Art Therapy Help With Recovery? 

A 2014 article on art therapy by researchers at the University of Georgia reported benefits “such as decreasing denial, reducing opposition to alcoholism treatment, providing an outlet for communication, and lessening shame.” There is also evidence that art therapy can enhance the results of other therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Many facilities and rehabilitation programs offer art therapy in addition to traditional psychotherapies because it has been proven to enhance their effects. 

You may notice that participating in various artistic activities makes it easier to explore your emotions, even ones that are confusing or hard to articulate. Research has shown that art therapy can help you achieve the following:

  • Cope with stress
  • Develop a connection between your mind and body
  • Increase self-awareness
  • Boost self-esteem
  • Nurture essential life skills
  • Lower anxiety levels
  • Improve social skills

Do I Need to Be an Artist to Benefit From Art Therapy? 

You do not need any previous experience with art to benefit from art therapy. Most exercises you will practice have more to do with the transformative act of creating and the expression of emotion rather than making a specific finished product. There is no need for skill or experience. 

Art therapy is successful because it uses the same parts of your brain responsible for processing emotions. You do not need prior experience or talent to use art to work through emotional issues. Your brain will create a connection automatically between your feelings and whatever therapy exercises you are assigned. 

Get the Most Out of Art Therapy

You can take some steps to get more out of your art therapy sessions. If you feel like you should be experiencing faster growth, speak with your therapist to see if they have any additional suggestions that might help you gain more from each session.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Stay focused on the task at hand during a session and pay close attention to monitoring your surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. 
  • Actively Listen: When your therapist explains the relevance of a particular exercise, actively listen and use the additional information you notice to dig deeper into the meaning of the exercise so you can get more out of it.
  • Try Not to Overthink Things: Art is an emotional tool, and you might find that you get better results if you try not to overthink the process. Instead, follow the art instructions using intuition and get into a flow with the activity.

We are here for you

Art therapy is one of many alternative therapies available to help people in recovery from substance abuse. It works by activating specific regions of the brain that make it easier to access and process emotions. At White House Recovery and Detox, you can use creativity to overcome challenges and learn coping skills. We have a dedicated art studio and plenty of materials to choose from to find something you will enjoy no matter what medium you prefer to use. You can find calm and emotional balance in sculpting, drawing, or painting. For more about our alternative therapies, reach out to White House Recovery and Detox today.