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Creative Arts Therapy in Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment

Patient Center
07.26.2020

The emotions that one may feel while struggling with addiction, or substance use disorder (SUD) can be overwhelming. Fear, regret, shame, among other emotions brought on by traumas experienced in correlation to, or proceeding addiction are powerful. And while they can be difficult to understand and cope with, getting to a space where one feels comfortable getting in touch with those emotions and then, a step further, allowing a safe space to express and explore them in a healthy way can be the key to overcoming addiction.

What Is Creative Arts Therapy

Creative Arts Therapy is the active engagement of the arts to address mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. By focusing on creative expression, Licensed Creative Arts Therapists (LCATs) are able to support a patient as they work through their feelings and thoughts that they may not know how or may not feel ready to verbally express.

Creative Arts Therapy is an umbrella term that encompasses several modalities of psychotherapy including art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy and poetry therapy. In addiction treatment, these therapies are utilized to help a person find a space that feels safe to explore their emotions, thoughts and behaviors, harnessing self-awareness through discovery, creativity and reflection. One of the many goals of Creative Arts Therapy in SUD treatment is to establish new pathways and connections for effective problem solving and healing through both verbal and non-verbal communication or creative avenues.

An Integrated Addiction Treatment Approach

At Wellbridge, we follow evidence-based, patient-centric practices. This includes integrating multiple group therapies – like traditional talk therapy and creative arts therapies – into a treatment plan that focuses on treating addiction and the trauma that either led to or resulted from addiction in parallel.

While many treatment centers may consider creative arts therapies alternative options, we at Wellbridge consider them a fundamental part of treatment. Creative Arts Therapy works complementary of traditional talk therapy to ensure that we are setting our patients up for long-term sobriety success. This integrated approach not only helps us break down barriers to self-reflection and healing, but it also allows us to help develop an understanding of emotions and behaviors. Thus providing the tools needed to better deal with high risk scenarios.

At Wellbridge, we integrate the following creative arts therapy approaches into each individual’s treatment plan:

Art Therapy – Art therapy is perhaps the most well-known modality. By focusing on an external piece of work, patients often feel most comfortable with this approach, especially in the beginning stages of treatment where distance is needed. These sessions can focus on concepts like drawing what their road to recovery looks like, painting a particularly impactful moment in their journey or crafting the bridge to sobriety.

Music Therapy – Music therapy is the evidence-based use of music interventions to address thoughts, emotions and behaviors of individuals in treatment. It can be particularly impactful when opening the doors to vocalizing a patient’s emotions and thoughts. Session activities may look like lyrical analysis, drum circles, vocalization or song writing.

Dance/Movement Therapy – Dance, or movement, therapy is my particular specialty. It leverages the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to provide support on all levels – mentally, emotionally, functionally, spiritually, and socially. This form of therapy looks at the correlation between movement and emotion and sessions can often include movement mirroring and analysis, tying it all in to the patient’s relationship to the body and substance use.

Drama Therapy – Drama therapy is also another opportunity to establish comfort in speaking about the emotions and thoughts that are driving addictive behaviors. With sessions focusing on script writing and role playing, patients are able to examine things like their role in life or family structures.

Poetry Therapy – Similar to other CAT modalities, each poetry session can take a unique path. However, a sample session can look like introducing a poem, reading it aloud, then moving into poem analysis and relating it back to the patients’ own recovery journey.

What To Expect

Like many addiction treatment centers, our creative arts therapy sessions are often very organic. The direction each session takes stems from what the patient(s) need in that moment, in line with the common expression for those in recovery, taking it “one day at a time.” Additionally, Wellbridge has introduced more structured sessions into our programs, leading the Creative Arts Therapy industry, particularly dance/movement therapy, in a new direction. This structure is shaped and influenced by evidence-based practices, integrating and weaving aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy for example. Our sessions are thoughtfully designed!

When you or your loved one joins us at Wellbridge, your course of treatment is completely centered around you and your needs. Our expert team is here to help guide you along the way, creating a space for self-recovery using evidence-based techniques. If you’re ready to take this step in recovery, contact us today.