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Untitled Post Incorporating Art and Music Therapy into Your Recovery Practice

posted Nov 10, 2018, 3:59 PM by Lauren Hughes   [ updated Nov 10, 2018, 4:13 PM ]


Incorporating Art and Music Therapy into Your Recovery Practice

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Hobbies are a wonderful way for recovering addicts to find new purpose and productivity in their day-to-day existence. Addiction often leaves behind an empty hole in people's lives. Fortunately, creative activities can effectively fill that hole and prevent relapse. Finding productive ways to spend your leisure time will help you build confidence, make new friends, reduce stress and find happiness in your new, drug-free life. In particular, expressive art and music therapy are widely used in counseling settings alongside mental health treatment and addiction recovery. Here’s how you can incorporate these into your own recovery practice.


What is Art and Music Therapy?


Creative arts therapies are used by therapists to help patients express their feelings and discover healthy coping mechanisms through fulfilling leisure activities. It involves learning to understand those emotions that are difficult to communicate verbally, increasing your self-awareness so you can be better prepared to handle negative feelings.


These activities involve everything from singing to sculpture art. Simply listening to music, dancing, and storytelling are also aspects of art therapy that can be beneficial for recovering addicts. Therapists will often assess and identify the particular strengths and interests of their patients to determine which particular creative activities will be most beneficial to them. When you’re choosing for yourself, look out for an activity that reduces stress, makes you feel good about yourself, and helps you manage negative emotions.

How Creative Activities Facilitate Recovery


Art and music therapy has plenty of benefits for both the mind and the physical body. Music may be able to change the neurochemistry of your brain to positively affect the body’s feel-good system. Research suggests that music could cause our brain cells to release endorphins, suppressing pain and making us feel happier. Music therapy has even been proven to reduce anxiety and muscle tension, which is invaluable to people facing a rocky recovery. Also, composing and creating music with others in your recovery circle can help you understand each other on a deeper level, creating an environment that fosters greater acceptance and healing. 


At the same time, the positive visual stimuli involved in art therapy can change how people experience pain. For example, simply integrating art into the design of hospital facilities has the power to calm patients and improve treatment outcomes. Verywell Mind emphasizes that art is used to treat a variety of mental disorders from learning disabilities to chronic stress, making it perfect for addressing the many issues faced by adults in addiction recovery. Engaging in artistic forms of expression can help you resolve inner conflicts and learn to manage your behavior. Similar to playing music with others, painting, drawing, sculpting, or performing plays in a group is a great way to develop interpersonal skills.


How to Get Started


Implementing art therapy into your personal recovery practice will be a process that's unique to you. It's important that you pick a few activities that are relaxing rather than frustrating. If one form of expression, like making music or painting pictures, brings you more stress than enjoyment, try something else! For example, if you are anxious about creating art, try drawing simple patterns or getting an adult coloring book. These activities are highly meditative and are a great way to introduce yourself to artistic expression in a state of peacefulness.


There are numerous other options out there, including finger painting, journaling, poetry, dancing, scrapbooking, sewing, knitting and woodworking. Other, more specific artistic activities can pinpoint various psychological issues to help you deal with them. For example, if you suffer from anxiety, try drawing or a picture that symbolizes your anxiety and write down what you discovered about yourself afterward. This can help you develop strategies to recognize your anxiety and deal with it in healthy ways rather than turning to substances.


Engaging in art and music therapy is a great way to supplement your addiction recovery program. However, it is still important to integrate aspects of behavioral modification, cognitive therapies, and motivational counseling into your recovery practice. Get on track with a recovery plan that suits you and then talk to your therapist about how art and music therapy can be beneficial for boosting your success in recovery.


About Author:

Michelle Peterson’s mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it

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