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Art Therapy Aids in Recovery

Opportunities for self-expression and healing are an important part of the recovery process for individuals struggling with substance abuse. That is why Penn Foundation recently added art therapy to its array of group offerings at the John W. and Emily Clemens Recovery Center. The program is studio-based with emphasis on the client’s interaction with art materials, such as clay, paint, and fabric.

Art therapy is a type of expressive group therapy that can help people express thoughts and feelings they may not be able to say with words,” explains Jessica Hauser, MA, an art therapist at Penn Foundation’s Recovery Center. “This therapy is especially helpful for people who have underlying psychological issues related to their addiction, such as a history of abuse. Art therapy provides an opportunity to explore, understand, and resolve issues in a person’s life that he or she may not feel comfortable talking about.”

The art therapy practiced at the Recovery Center is studio-based, meaning that emphasis is placed upon the client's interaction with the art materials. Clients can choose from a variety of mediums such as collage, paint, clay, found objects, drawing materials, fabric, etc.

“The materials themselves are chosen with a certain level of thought and specificity with the intent of providing the client with opportunities to gain mastery, explore, and experiment, all lessons necessary in the recovery process,” adds Hauser. “Additionally, art therapy practices highlight a need to trust in the creative process and embrace the journey’s value, rather than focus on the product.”

Much of art therapy is geared towards fostering a sense of identity, exploring one’s emotional self, and forming meaningful connections with others. “Our collaborative projects also illuminate a sense of belonging while providing the opportunity to work on communication skills, set boundaries, and explore healthy relationships,” says Hauser.



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