What Exactly Is Art Therapy?

By: Design for Change Recovery June 16, 2017 no comments

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Art therapy is the professional use of art, in all of its forms, to aid in the process of healing. Art therapy is used in treatment for addiction and alcoholism to help clients process emotions and issues in their life, find hope in healing, and create a leisure form of therapy.

How Art Therapy Works:

By using the creative medium of various art media, clients work with tangible items to express intangible thoughts, feelings, and emotions. According to the American Art Therapy Association, through the use of art therapy, clients have the ability to:

  • Explore their feelings
  • Reconcile emotional conflicts
  • Foster self-awareness
  • Manage behaviors
  • Develop social skills
  • Improve reality orientation
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase self-esteem

Overall, the “goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being.” Art therapy in treatment serves a specific purpose to this regard. Being well is not a term most who walk through the doors of treatment would use to describe themselves. Treatment seeks to improve the wellbeing of clients mentally, physically, and spiritually. The calming and often lethargic practices of art therapy aid in that process. Emotional wellbeing is essential for healing in all three areas. Types of therapy used in treatment can vary greatly from expressive to highly clinical. Each person in recovery is unique and functions in a completely unique way. Consequently, each person emotionally processes differently than others. Art therapy can be a way to express emotions and process emotions when they cannot be felt in other areas of treatment. Supporting emotional well being, art therapy is an essential alternative treatment method.

For those who do process well in clinical therapy, all day clinical work can be taxing. Art therapy provides a meditative and creative release as a welcome break from traditional talk methods. Using their hands and their minds in a different way helps them to reboot and restore while continuing to gain insight.

Forms Of Art Therapy

As an inclusive category, art therapy can include traditional art using creative media, dance, drama, film, and music therapy. Anything which constitutes creative expression can be considered art.


Hope exists in recovery. Freedom is waiting. At Design For Change, we have created a refuge for addicts and alcoholics seeking sobriety and change in their lives. For information on our treatment programs and recovery services, call us today at (877) 267-3646.