In APEX Rehab art therapy, creativity and art-making processes promote healing and encourage the development of insight into life situations and traumatic experiences. It is the stories in the images that help lead the process of healing. An art therapy session begins with the therapist working with the client to create a safe, healing environment and a trusting relationship.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art is made in this way “within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living”.
Clients are encouraged to use materials such as clay, paint, markers, and other artistic supplies to explore memories, life stories and experiences. This gives the client the opportunity to transform conflicts and crisis into healthy solutions and perspectives.
Creating images is an especially old form of communicating, older than writing. By creating imagery through doodles, and playing with colors and shapes, clients may safely express what is too difficult to talk about. This process facilitates not only the expression of feelings, but addresses how to deal with feelings in the right context – in a way that is not destructive to the individual or others. This can be of singular help in combating the urge to relapse.
The art therapy process teaches clients the skills to manage their emotions and assists in dealing with serious addiction issues such as anger. The concrete nature of art materials and art making naturally enables patients to remain in control of their own processes, thus allowing them to feel a sense of control as they learn to cope with these intense emotions.
Art therapy can be conducted in a group and in that case, it has the added benefit of promoting sharing and closeness. Not only one’s own artwork, but the artwork of other members of the group can bring the individual closer to valuable insights and revelations.
When it’s done outside group, the creations can be used as an excellent starting point for self-reflection and journaling. It is an additional opportunity for the patient to dig deep into how they are feeling about their past, present and future and the conclusions reached can facilitate the progress in other therapies that seek to change the negative thought patterns and balance accepting painful emotions and working to change them.