Benefits of Art Therapy During Rehab in Pennsylvania

Many people choose to simply observe art and enjoy it. However, art is also a very powerful treatment modality when integrated with common rehab programs. For many people, the most difficult thing they need to deal with during rehab is not knowing what to do with their free time. Or they may have trouble communicating with others. Art therapy fills these gaps perfectly and brings along numerous other benefits as well. When combined with one of the Pennsylvania substance abuse treatment programs, art therapy can improve self-esteem, allow for healthy emotional release, and much more. In this article, we will explain what art therapy is, how it supplements existing rehab programs, and point out all the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania.

What is Art Therapy?

There are a lot of definitions for art therapy. To put it simply, art therapy is the application of visual arts in a therapeutic setting. While it is possible to undergo art therapy on your own, the benefits are far greater when you have a professional therapist guiding you along the way. This is not to say that the activities you will partake in are complex in nature. In fact, many experts believe that the simpler the therapy the greater the benefits.

artistic painting
Art can be strikingly simple.

However, this is all highly individual. This is yet another reason why having access to a professional therapist is a great thing. A medical professional will be able to determine what your unique needs are and customize the therapy accordingly. Furthermore, the therapist may also include additional treatment modalities, such as music therapy for drug addiction, recreational therapy, etc. Lastly, art therapy is even more powerful in a group setting. Not only will you reap all the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania but you will also create meaningful connections at the same time. For some people, being able to share their art with others may be even more therapeutic than simply expressing themselves through art.

Art therapy in rehab programs

The fact of the matter is that the first days of rehab can be extremely hard. Some people might find it hard to communicate effectively with professional medical staff, while others may find it difficult to express themselves through words. This is where art therapy excels by providing a form of visual communication through art. Art therapy is often used for benzo addiction treatment, as well as any mental health issue that involves depression or anxiety. By embracing art as a visual form of communication, patients will find it easier to work through difficult experiences.

12 Steps of recovery

While art therapy is never used solely on its own to treat substance addiction, it is often a part of a larger program. For example, one of the most well-known programs for addiction, the 12 Steps of Recovery program, utilizes art therapy. The program itself first started as a way to help alcoholics get back to their normal lives but has now been expanded to cater to a wide range of mental health issues. This is due to the fact that this program allows the patients to undergo treatment at all levels (physical, spiritual, and mental). The inclusion of art therapy in the 12 Steps of Recovery program ensures that no matter what the individual’s needs are, they will be well-cared for.

Benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania

Every treatment modality comes with its own set of unique benefits. In the case of art therapy, the possible benefits include:

  • Stress relief
  • Self-discovery
  • Self-esteem
  • Emotional release
  • Increased brain plasticity
person creating art and getting the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania
Creating art is one of the best forms of stress relief.

But that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Art by itself also encourages creative thinking, eases the burden of chronic health conditions, helps build trust after addiction recovery, and can help minimize symptoms of trauma. But most importantly, creating art is fun! And you simply can’t have enough sources of fun when in rehab, and that is a fact. But just how does art therapy allow for all these benefits? Let’s find out!

Art therapy is a great form of stress relief

Truth be told, relieving stress is mostly about distractions. Art therapy provides a perfect distraction from your usual thoughts by allowing you to focus on your particular type of art. While you are dancing, sculpting, drawing, or being a photographer, you are lowering your stress levels at the same time. Being immersed in an art project may bring you to a meditative-like state of mind, allowing you to push aside any issues and focus on what’s in front of you. Furthermore, combining art therapy with a recreational therapy program can significantly improve your overall health. By being engrossed in what you are doing, you may not even realize that you are getting plenty of exercise as well.

Self-discovery through art therapy

As someone very smart once said, creativity is the route to authenticity. The process of creating art allows us to reach deep into what we believe and think. And the more we create, the more things we discover about ourselves. These discoveries include our habits, desires, and impulses alike, and can be extremely important during the recovery process. Not only that, but those insights that we gain from art therapy stay with us for the rest of our life. By spending time creating art, we also learn to express ourselves in other ways as well.

person holding a magnifying glass
Art will allow you to achieve greater self-understanding.

Art therapy increases self-esteem

There’s no denying that art provides a sense of accomplishment. No matter what you may have created, displaying your artwork is an accomplishment, after all. Creating art also increases your body’s production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is excellent for motivation, focus, and concentration. Furthermore, dopamine will protect your brain from aging and ward off depression at the same time! You will reap all of the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania over again, as you will be creating new art pieces all the time.

Lastly, improved self-esteem from art therapy can also lead to a spiritual shift in addiction recovery. Through art, you may be able to change the way you see the world, life itself, and everything else. And the best part is that you may not even notice it as you will be too busy having fun creating art.

Art therapy will provide a healthy outlet

Aside from all the other benefits that art therapy brings, it is also an extremely healthy outlet for your emotions. You will be able to express all your feelings and fears throughout your art, ones that you might not be able to express otherwise. All of us require an emotional release at some point in our lives, after all. And people that are struggling with addiction might need it more than others. Art therapy provides the perfect outlet for all those pent-up emotions and that is, perhaps, its greatest benefit.

One of the most important benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania – Brain connectivity and plasticity

Have you ever heard about brain plasticity? In a nutshell, brain plasticity (neuroplasticity) is the ability of the human brain to change throughout life by creating and growing connections. What art therapy does is stimulates these connections and allow your brain to become more resilient and stress-resistance. In other words, while you are painting, creating pottery, or creating any other form of art, you are simultaneously creating and growing these connections in your brain.

person holding stringed lights, representing brain connectivity
By creating art you are also stimulating your brain in the best possible way.

Who should try art therapy?

You may think that art therapy might not be for you. And you may be right, no treatment modality is perfectly suited for everyone. However, if you are feeling even a bit overwhelmed or pressured by the world we live in, you should give art therapy a “go”. By creating art, you may give yourself a chance to slow down and explore any of your issues at your own pace. That is why art therapy is perfectly suited for people who are in rehab or are suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety, dementia, depression, PTSD, etc.

The focus of art therapy is never on becoming a great artist, it is all about creating connections and finding meaning in your life. All that it takes for art therapy to be successful is to be willing to experiment. Many people believe that they simply can’t do art which is 100% untrue. Everyone can create art, that is the beauty of it! The fact of the matter is that art is purely subjective, you may not like your own creation but that does not mean that many other people will not enjoy it. In fact, some of the best art in the world was considered to be “worthless” at one point in time. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you are spending time on your art. By doing so, you will receive all the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania.

Types of art therapy

Art can be pretty much anything. That being said, there are five types of art that are most commonly utilized in art therapy, due to their effectiveness. Therefore, many of the residential treatment centers Pennsylvania has on offer include painting, collaging, photography, or digital art in their rehab programs.


Sometimes, it is quite impossible to communicate the exact depth of our emotions through words. But what we can do instead is allow our emotions to flow through our paintings. By painting, we also provide a conduit for emotional release and “feed our soul”. Furthermore, painting is almost what everyone thinks when they mention art. And that matters to many people.

person creating a painting
Painting therapy is the “traditional” form of art therapy.

However, painting can also be quite daunting. The unfortunate fact is that many people will simply not like what they paint and might be “put off” from the therapy altogether. While painting is a very powerful form of art therapy, it is simply not for everyone. And that is perfectly alright.


Collaging is the art of selecting images, papers, or other ephemera, and arranging/altering them to a support such as paper or cardboard. It is something that literally everyone can do, which is why many rehab programs utilize this art therapy type. The reason why collaging is so effective is that it helps people connect with art in a less daunting way. That, and the fact that it is rather easy to make impressive collages. Pretty much everyone can do this and achieve amazing art that is absolutely “hang-worthy”.


Therapeutic photography is all about using photographs to augment your healing process, personal growth, and understanding. It is one of the more “active” types of art therapy, as it usually requires a bit of going outside. Photography can also allow you to express your feelings in a symbolic manner. It provides opportunities to demonstrate continuity, challenge, and identity. You can get most of the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania through photography. Photography will help you lower your stress levels, enable you to forge or maintain your identity, and provide you with an outlet, all in one.

Digital art

This is the “latest and greatest” when it comes to art therapy. Digital art has all the benefits of traditional art therapy but is much more convenient. This is especially true for the members of the new generations, who all but have “computers in their veins”. This art therapy type may include digital painting, video editing, and 3d modeling. The latter two are particularly useful skills to learn these days, as the demand for video editors and 3d modelers has never been higher.

All in all, to receive all the benefits of art therapy during rehab in Pennsylvania, all you need to do is open yourself to the possibility. With so many types of art therapy to choose from, you are certain to find something that you like.

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