Art therapy is an alternative treatment to the traditionally shown 12-step programs like AA and NA. Any type of medium of art can be used to perform and participate in art therapy, such as coloring, collages, scrapbooks, clay, painting, and any other form of artistic expression. Art brings out emotions that are difficult to express in words. It’s also a great outlet for emotions such as anger, anxiety, stress, depression, and anything else individuals may be feeling during their sessions.

It can also be used in therapy sessions during addiction treatment as a way to move patients from a reflective state to a state of action and mental focus. In patients that struggle with reflecting on themselves and their lives this could prevent them from lashing out at themselves or others after and during sessions.

Mandalas are a popular art therapy technique, as the mandala is a sacred circle used to represent the universe. They allow reflection of self to take place, and creating one is a relaxing activity for many people. Mandalas are intricate and the way they look varies widely from person to person, but each one allows for true self-expression and representation of self.

Even a blank piece of paper and a pen can take on an entirely new perspective to someone struggling to recognize the good in their nature. Drawing can guide patients to see their misplaced emotions and face them appropriately. Something as small as a lump of clay could represent personalities and events.

Drawing and clay mediums give both the client and the professional a better understanding of how they see the world and their situation. Art externalizes traumatic memories, bringing thoughts and emotions to the surface that some people don’t know they were holding onto.

Some people may even see art as scary, refusing to even hold a crayon. Exploring different techniques and forms of art can give the most unwilling of individuals more incentive to try something new and lead them to a new path of their recovery.  For many, their addiction has become the only thing they hold as important. However, they will discover their inner talent and have something to be proud of. This builds confidence and mental strength over time.

Art therapy also acts a form of group therapy, encouraging social interactions and bonding among peers. Clients can work on projects together and feel as though they are a part of a community. As time goes on, their art styles and expressions may change to include more feelings of togetherness, love, and appreciation.

Higher self-esteem can also be achieved through the use of art therapy. Positive feedback from peers and staff take confidence through the roof and let patients know they can believe in themselves. Individuals choose their own art medium to work with and let their creativity flow from their fingertips. They retain the choice of their activity to encourage participation throughout the session and create more of a feeling of control over their lives.