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Group 401

The Power of the Arts to Heal During Recovery

Artist painting a pictureThe last time you created something—brought something into existence with your hands, mind, and heart—how did you feel? You likely sensed accomplishment, satisfaction, empowerment, and pride. The process itself of painting, writing, designing, sculpting, or crafting probably elicited other powerful and positive emotions. Perhaps you felt calm, confident, and even fell into a zen-like state.

The power of the creative process to health the mind, heart, and soul has been known and understood for centuries. It’s what compels us to dive into a creative project when we need a mental and emotional break from the strains of our life. If you’re in the process of recovering from addiction, loss, or a traumatic experience, art therapy may have the power to be a vital and impactful part of your healing process.

Be Open to Any Form of Creative Expression

What is wonderful about using the creative process during recovery is that there is no right or wrong way to express yourself. Whether you write poetry and prose, delve into watercolors, or sketch with charcoal pencils, all that matters is that you are taking the feelings and thoughts in your heart and mind and putting them into a visual format where you can understand, accept, and move on from them.

Visualize and Release Your Feelings

Holding emotions inside does not give your mind a chance to understand their origin and meaning. Any therapist will tell you that to heal, you need to work through your feelings. Just as talk therapy helps to move emotions from the recesses of your mind into the open where you can accept them, visualizing your feelings through creative expression can be just as cathartic and helpful.

Start with Art Journaling

If you’re not feeling confident in your artistic skills, or lack a studio with all the supplies you’d need to become an oil painting master, know that all you need to begin your art healing process is a blank journal. Create an art journal to serve as a visual record of your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Use words, drawings, and colors—anything that you need to pour onto the page the sentiments inside.

Decide Your Boundaries

For some, an art journal is most effective if kept private. For others, the process of sharing their creations, whether with family, friends, a therapist, and even social media followers, may help the acknowledgment and acceptance process. What’s most important is that you choose to use your art in any way that will aid your recovery.

Your First Prompt

If you’ve obtained an art journal and are staring at the first blank page, unsure where to begin, use this prompt to start your artistic journey: Visually depict what a typical day feels like to you. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to execute the prompt. Use it as a starting point to assess the evolving emotions you feel on a typical day of recovery, and let your creative mind go from there.

Art, in any form, has the power to put into a visual format what our minds can’t always express aloud. Any type of creativity that helps you make peace with your past and commit to a healthy and safe future can only help to heal and empower.