When is the last time you tried a new instrument or picked up a paintbrush? While art and music can be both therapeutic and fun, many adults are unfortunately hesitant to explore these activities due to a doubt in their own skills.
Here at Hawaiian Island Recovery, clients have the opportunity to use art to communicate their emotions, process what they’re learning, and find strength and support for their journey to recovery.
Read on to learn more about art therapy for addiction treatment in Hawaii.
What is art therapy for addiction treatment?
According to the SAMHSA’s guide titled “Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy,” art therapy is a type of expressive group therapy. The guide explains that expressive therapies
“allow clients to express feelings and thoughts—conscious or unconscious—that they might have difficulty communicating with spoken words alone.”
Furthermore, expressive therapy groups like those used in art therapy
“generally foster social interaction among group members… can improve socialization and the development of creative interests.”
Clients use artistic mediums to explore and express their substance abuse, why it began, any traumas they have experienced, and how the trauma and/or substance abuse has affected their lives. Art therapy may include painting, sculpting, drawing, and more. It also provides clients with an opportunity to explore healthier coping mechanisms for a healthier, sober future.
According to Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., there are a few different approaches to art therapy that a therapist may use, including:
- Active Imagination: Clients start by creating a piece of art, then consider any thoughts or feelings that “come spontaneously to their minds” as a result.
- Gestalt Art Therapy: The therapist may encourage the client to “describe the image from the image’s perspective,” which can help clients uncover and communicate their own emotions.
- Third-hand Approach: The therapist creates the art alongside the client, while letting the client take the lead, in order to “develop the therapeutic relationship.”
Does art therapy work for recovering drug and alcohol addicts?
While you may consider art therapy a bit unconventional, studies show that it truly can be beneficial for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. Art therapy has been used in addiction therapy since the 1950s, and research findings suggest that art therapy can encourage:
- Reduced opposition to treatment
- Decreased denial
- A lessening of shame
- An outlet for communication
- Facilitation for group discussions
- Motivation for life change
Who leads art therapy at Hawaiian Island Recovery?
Art therapy at Hawaiian Island Recovery is led by Devora Kalma, MA MT-BC. Devora is a nationally board-certified music therapist with a Masters in Expressive Therapies and Mental Health Counseling and post-graduate training in body-mind approaches to wellness. She has worked in major mental health since 2008, facilitating evidence-based music, movement, art, and poetry experiences as and in therapy.
“I like to use music like a soft spotlight on feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and spirituality,”
says Devora. She focuses on nourishing residents’ relationships with music and creativity as a healing and inspirational force in their lives.
Devora uses different artistic mediums, such as music, painting, poetry, and collage, to help residents access feelings and thoughts that they may not be able to tap into quite as easily in a more traditional therapy session.
In her sessions, residents learn how we can all use our creativity
“to lift our spirits, to comfort ourselves, to connect with others, and to feel better.”
Regardless of your skill or experience in art, art therapy is an opportunity to use your brain in a new way and process all you’re experiencing and learning at Hawaiian Island Recovery.