Art Therapy and the Recovery Process
At Fairwinds Treatment Center , we believe that expression in art stimulates fantasy, creativity and spontaneous, unconscious imagery. It offers the possibility of creating a self-reflection, or an image of oneself and one’s world, from which it is possible to separate and gain distance. In this way, the art object may provide self-confrontation and perspective. Art making may be an occasion for joy and fun, as well as for serious contemplation. Materials are manipulated to form beautiful, strange, bizarre, ugly, pleasing and amusing images.
To view the work of one’s own hands can be an exhilarating experience. It can also be frustrating when one feels discouraged from being unable to express visually what one has in mind. Nevertheless, the artist is in control to create whatever the imagination prompts. One may modify the world or create an entirely new world.
A Therapeutic Alliance
Whereas art making can occur in solitude, therapy implies a relationship between at least two people, one of whom is the therapist and one who is the client. This “therapeutic alliance” implies working together, rather than one person doing something to or for another.
Many people who are in an eating disorder treatment program, or undergoing drug and alcohol rehab, experience an understanding and nonjudgmental support in art therapy they have never had before. And many find in themselves strengths and a beauty that they didn’t know existed. The self-expression and exploration that are part of art making combine with the positive personal development fostered by the therapeutic alliance to form a new way of self-expression and discovery.
Benefits of art therapy include:
- Enhanced creativity and imagination
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Increased personal autonomy and motivation
- The opportunity to express feelings, emotions and conflicts
- Interaction with others thereby enhancing social skills
- Enhanced senses through the use of various art materials increasing one’s awareness of his or her environment
At Fairwinds Treatment Center, our art therapy program is just one of several models used for the treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia, as well as for drug and alcohol rehab, or to treat co-occurring conditions.