Creative Art Therapy is a kind of experiential therapy that involves non-verbal, imaginative, and creative exercises. Not surprisingly, it’s an extremely powerful tool in helping clients express emotions, desires, and needs. Research has found art therapy to be an effective treatment for many different mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, low mood, distress, inability to cope, and low self-esteem. It can be a powerful tool for overcoming a substance use disorder and any co-occurring disorders that may underlie it.
At Cirque Lodge, Creative Art Therapy includes a range of activities, such as drawing emotions, creating an art journal, and creating sculptures. Art therapy can help you express yourself, motivate you to change, and increase your self-confidence.
Creative art therapy can involve a range of materials, tasks, and activities.
It can consist of:
Projects given in our program can be directive or nondirective. A directive task is when the creative art therapist provides a specific goal or outcome for a task, like drawing a specific emotion or painting something they associate with a particular word.
A nondirective task involves giving an individual certain materials and allowing them total creative freedom in using them. They may produce an outcome or explore the processes of making and creating.
Both activities develop self-expression, honest communication, and a sense of mastery and self-worth – skills that are the foundation of recovery from drug use and addiction.
At Cirque Lodge, we recognize the profound impact that art therapy can have on the recovery process. Our art therapy program is designed to unlock the therapeutic power of creativity, offering our clients a diverse range of artistic mediums to explore. Our experienced therapists guide clients through these activities, helping them express emotions that may be difficult to verbalize. The process is deeply personal and notably powerful, allowing clients to confront and process their feelings, fears, and experiences in a safe, nurturing environment.
Art therapy is grounded in the understanding that creative expression can lead to healing and mental well-being. Scientifically, engaging in artistic activities has been shown to reduce stress, improve brain function, and enhance emotional regulation. When creating art, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that fosters feelings of pleasure and can be particularly beneficial in counteracting the lows of addiction recovery. Furthermore, art therapy can activate different parts of the brain, encouraging introspection, self-awareness, and cognitive flexibility – all essential components in the healing process.
Early recovery can be an emotionally confusing time. In the early stages of treatment, it can be hard or even impossible to discuss addiction verbally. Clients may not be consciously aware of their disorder and its damaging effects, or they may be experiencing a form of denial.
Art provides an alternative way of communicating experiences of addiction and the destruction and fear that may surround it. Art therapy may involve ‘incident drawings’ where substance users draw pictures to express feelings and experiences. Themes associated with addiction may be present in the artwork even when a person cannot communicate them verbally.
Creative art therapists can use incident drawings later in the treatment process to explore other feelings that chemical dependence may have masked.
Accepting your alcohol or drug addiction is a fundamental part of the recovery process.
It is part of the first step in the 12-step method of Alcoholics Anonymous and integral to many other treatment approaches.
Healing involves realizing that your addiction is neither your fault nor your choice. Addiction is out of your control and not something to be ashamed of, and by letting go of guilt and shame, you can develop self-worth, self-care, and self-love.
Shame is a complex emotion and can be hard to identify, especially early in treatment. However, if it is not adequately addressed, it can disrupt the entire treatment process. It can reappear as anger, confusion, denial, and silence as you try to work through issues surrounding your addiction.
Creative art therapy helps identify and reduce feelings of shame in several ways. These include:
Art can be a language for your thoughts and feelings. You can often express yourself through art when you are not able to with words. You may not be able to communicate a feeling of shame verbally, but you might convey it through your artwork.
When you first start addiction treatment, feelings that you have avoided or denied for many years may come to the surface. These are often feelings of extreme shame, anguish, or rage.
Substance users typically deal with aggressive and violent emotions through compulsive behaviors like drug abuse. Creative art-making provides an alternative channel of release. It can transform raw and unprocessed feelings into pieces of artwork or creative processes which you can discuss and work through with a therapist.
Addiction takes away your ability to choose and imposes actions and behaviors on you which are out of your control.
Art-making gives you a choice. You have control over how to use your materials and what the outcome will be. It provides a sense of mastery and creative freedom that is opposite to the experience of addiction.
Exploring freedom and control through art can emphasize the compulsive nature of addiction. It can help you understand that addiction is not something you have chosen or should be ashamed of. This understanding is fundamental to developing a sense of self-worth.
Art therapy complements other therapeutic modalities such as individual counseling, group therapy, and holistic practices by offering a non-verbal outlet for expression and self-discovery, which is crucial for individuals who may struggle to articulate their thoughts and emotions. This integration ensures that each client's treatment journey is both holistic and personalized. At Cirque Lodge, we understand that addiction affects every individual differently, and therefore, a multi-faceted treatment approach is essential.
Treatment programs often use creative art therapy in combination with the 12-step method of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The 12-step method is a world-renowned program of spiritual development for overcoming addiction and maintaining abstinence.
The 12-steps involve recognizing that you are powerless over your addiction, making amends for your mistakes, and learning to live in the world without being burdened by your past.
Creative art therapy can be a powerful tool in facilitating the first step – accepting addiction as a disease that you do not control. Creative expression can help us recognize and communicate aspects of our addiction that we may find hard to express verbally.
Art therapy can also be a source of inspiration for recovery and a life without substance abuse. Creating art is a joyful experience that instills pride and self-esteem. It can produce a positive image of recovery that motivates you to continue working through the 12-steps.
Recovery from addiction is not an easy process.
The causes of addiction are often deep-rooted and complicated and require energy and focus to overcome them.
Individual and group focus groups require concentration and emotional vulnerability. While deeply healing, they can be exhausting, and a full day’s verbal therapy can sometimes be too much to handle. Art therapy is a break from the normal treatment. It can be a time to relax, have fun, and release stress while helping you to heal.
Treatment programs may use art therapy in the afternoon or evening to process the ideas and events of the day. Research suggests that experiential therapies, such as creative art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy, result in greater satisfaction with addiction treatment programs.
Art therapy continues to play a vital role in the aftercare and long-term recovery process. It provides our clients with a constructive and therapeutic tool that they can utilize beyond their time at Cirque Lodge. Engaging in art therapy can help in maintaining sobriety, managing stress, and navigating the challenges of everyday life post-treatment. It serves as a healthy outlet for coping with triggers and preventing relapse, ensuring a sustained and meaningful recovery journey.
Treatment centers that offer a combination of treatment approaches to cater to an individual’s multiple needs see the best outcomes.
Our programming offers creative therapies alongside other treatment options to provide a holistic healing experience. We offer a range of evidence-based behavioral therapies, experiential therapies, and support groups to provide the best treatment for our clients. The 12-steps are the foundation of our program and part of all our therapeutic approaches. We identify and treat co-occurring disorders alongside your addiction and include your family in the treatment experience.
Cirque Lodge offers an enriching rehabilitation experience where you can grow as a person, develop spiritually, and discover new passions in life.
At Cirque Lodge, art therapy in addiction treatment is more than just an activity; it's a transformative journey towards healing and self-discovery. By tapping into the power of creativity, our clients can explore new aspects of themselves, process complex emotions, and build a resilient foundation for recovery. We invite you to experience the transformative power of art therapy as part of your journey to wellness and recovery. Reach out today to get the process started.