Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Art Therapy in the Treatment of Alcoholics

Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Art Therapy in the Treatment of Alcoholics

Article excerpt

In the multidisciplinary approach and finding methods that will affect the patient's self-regulation and activate their potentials in perception and in solving their own problems, art therapy has a significant place.1

Treatment of people addicted to alcohol through art therapy process lowers stress levels, relaxes and patients communicate more freely. Having moved from the usual method of communication allows patients personal creativity, freedom, and telling story through the images. Selection of images is a result of internal thought process that is difficult to express through words.2

Art therapy is a process of inner monologue of the individual, where the thought process is creatively and openly expressed through drawings. Free symbolic communication gives the opportunity to every individual to talk through drawings about the problems that are difficult to expres in words (emotionally and socially acceptable).

»Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication. Clients who can use art therapy may have a wide range of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses. These include, for example, emotional, behavioral or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting conditions, brain-injury or neurological conditions and physical illness.« - BAAT - British Association of Art Therapists

People addicted to alcohol have changed perceptual abilities, poorer self-image, difficulties to express emotions; they also have difficulties in social interactions, what eventually leads to difficulties in general functioning. Art and music activity helps stimulate the sensory system.3,4

Projective technique through drawings relieves stress, makes people addicted to alcohol easier to talk about the issues of which they find it hard to speak about. People addicted to alcohol have increased emotional tension due to conflict within their structure, the conflict in the family and show fear in achieving personal relations. People addicted to alcohol have skewed projection of reality, difficulties in coping with the consequences of the earlier kind of life. Behavior needs to be changed in the rehabilitation process. It is certainly not a simple task and it is a lengthy process, which involves all members of the family.5

Art therapy helps the expression by using stories with images, which help in speaking freely. Individuals determine boundaries and depths of content, and at the same time, they talk about the problems of emotional functioning, communication and family relationships.

Methods and treatment in art therapy process are adapted to the individual as a specific structure that results from a particular cultural context, differences in lifestyles and way of functioning. It is important to adapt to the individual needs and abilities.5,6 The art therapy process has no limits in the general level of functioning and cognitive abilities and in doing so, everyone gets an equal chance of free artistic expression with the level of its reaction with uncharged social environment.

Artistic expression is symbolically an internal monologue, fostering the mechanism for considering the issues, helping to create new insights about themselves. It encourages individuals to make observations and decide how they will be affected by the changes.7 Expected changes are defined by the individual's own limits and the processes of art therapy rehabilitation method encourage their own mechanisms of self-perception and self-evaluation by an individual cause - effects of changes in thinking. An individual always has a perceptual problem pictured, as well as his or her own attitude to solve his or her own problem. Functioning of the individual is linked to learning and interaction in early childhood, experiences in adulthood, and the attainment of life functions and roles (partnership, parenthood), which are accompanied by rewards and disappointments.2 The goals of rehabilitation through an art therapy process are: activation of multiple sensory systems, improving perceptions, releasing inner emotional tension by active work, discovering new knowledge through free pictorial expression, creating his or her own opinions on the drawing, boost in self-analysis resulting in personal conclusions and encouraging change (drawing, thinking, creating stories), updating the problem, enhancing creative thinking and making positive changes, graphomotorical exercise, group interaction. …

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