Creative Sobriety

Using Art Therapy to Treat Addiction

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Why Art Creation Helps Mental Health

art therapyArt creation is good for people on many levels. It reflects our culture, documents our history, connects people everywhere and gives creative people an outlet for their angst. But one less known function of art is that it balances people’s mental health. Both creating and experiencing art have been found to increase a person’s mental health significantly. Creating art especially allows an artist to go through a self discovery process as they reflect themselves through their creative work. This benefit of art occurs for many reasons.

Firstly, art allows an artist to express themselves without difficult thinking. There is no right or wrong in art, only personal expression. Therefore, art is not mentally taxing for anyone. On the contrary, it is soothing. In most other disciplines, there are problems to solve and riddles to figure out. While some find this enjoyable, the benefit of expressing one’s self through an automatic task that allows the thoughts to wander freely cannot be overstated. Doing something functional but thinking freely at the same time makes use of both sides of the brain at once, enabling your neural network to be very connected.

The creative process makes use of parts of the brain that people fall out of touch with. This is very important to mental health because recalling the unadulterated thought patterns of your youth is part of the mental healing process. The more parts of your brain that are active, the better off you are. Brain scans have indicated extensive activity in the brain of someone creating art. As you get in touch with yourself through creative expression, you grow your own brain activity and make yourself more functional. This is a good reason for everyone to participate in art creation.

And lastly, art offers a person a judgment free zone. Sometimes this has to come with protection of a person’s creative space from those who will pass judgment on it, or for more seasoned artists, criticism may be embraced as part of the artistic process. Regardless, the art creation process itself is a totally safe zone and is very nurturing for a person who needs to express themselves.

Art Removes Inhibitions

art uninhibitedArt creation is a universal way of breaking down inhibitions. Inhibitions are things that hold us back from being completely truthful with ourselves and with others. Art has the ability to remove inhibitions because it is free of rules, it is a zone where controversy and offense do not apply and it gives its creator a total sense of freedom. Because of this, art is often used as a healing device for people who need to recover from trauma, abuse, addiction or disorder.

The rules about art state that there essentially are no rules. The base foundation of art is that it is a completely free expression. There are not laws or regulations governing art, the way there are in other disciplines. Instead, one can depict what is truly on their mind and their heart, and this process is so rewarding and therapeutic that it causes people to let their walls down and connect.

In art creation, there is no such thing as controversy or offense, in theory. Art is intrinsically a totally free form of expression. As soon as offense is subjected onto art, there are rules governing it, which goes against its very nature. In reality, it often does not work this way. People frequently take offense to art and do their best to control its content. They do not see that they are threatening the ideological framework of art itself. This is why it is the preference of many to create art intended for their eyes and the eyes of those they know and trust alone.

Typically, art done for therapeutic purposes is this type of art. This is why it rewards the artist with a total sense of freedom. The feeling of free expression is what destroys inhibitions, connects a person with meaning, reveals a person’s truest identity, and reminds them of what they truly value in life. These things are very important to healing from negative thought and behavior patterns.

Self-Expression Through Art

self expression artArt is a universal language. Whether you fell in love with art creation when you were very young, or whether you have recently discovered its rewards as an adult, you know that art is one of the greatest means of self-expression. This is because art can communicate our thoughts and ideas in ways that other expressive outlets, such as verbal communication, fall short of doing. Art projects have been known to assist in the treatment of mental disorders and addiction by allowing the individual total freedom and creative control of their project in order to sort through their thoughts. When it is used purely for self-expression and therapeutics, there is no need for any particular level of talent or ability.

An art project can be focused on content or style, depending on the artist’s objective. A content focused piece of art is something that can be interpreted for a specific meaning. For example, if the artist creates an image of a homeless man being snubbed by a wealthy man, the art’s content is clearly aimed at the injustices of homelessness. But if the piece contains no recognizable images and centers on colors or shapes, the artist was being more stylistic. This can also be thought of as the difference between abstract and literal art.

Art can be emotional or philosophical. If someone has a bad day and they approach their canvas to release emotion, more than likely they will not approach their art project in a regimented, developed way, but rather in a completely spontaneous way. If someone conceives an art project over time and plans their execution of it, they are taking a more philosophical approach to art.

Art can be created through the use of a traditional medium or a non-traditional one. A traditional medium can be thought of as pencils, paints and pastels. A non-traditional medium can be practically any kind of material the artist can manipulate. There is a famous, modern piece of art that is simply a domestic iron with spikes glued to it.