Art therapy has been shown to be a beneficial aide in self-discovery and the promotion of personal well being in early recovery. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as the use of art to explore feelings, manage behaviors, foster self-awareness, develop social skills, reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem, and reconcile emotional conflicts. Art therapy assists in uncovering memories, feelings, and thought processes that led to negative behaviors or consequences, and is therefore helpful in addiction treatment.

The use of art therapy can be found in many settings including hospitals, community and educational centers, private practices, and treatment centers. Art therapy is particularly useful in the addiction recovery process and has been found to increase belief in the 12-Step modality of substance abuse treatment.

A common fear in participating in art therapy is the belief that artistic talent is needed to successfully contribute to the art therapy process, but this not true. Making art is a creative outlet to express emotions and relieve stress and tension. It also helps the recovering addict maintain sobriety by creating a healthy distraction.

There are some great online resources that provide ways for recovering addicts to incorporate art into their recovery process. offers a blog called Creative Guide Through the 12 Steps, which offers fun ideas and art projects to create while working through the 12-Steps. Some of the art projects include making personal puzzles to work through Step 12, decorating votive candles to work through Step 5, and coloring mandalas to work through Step 11. All of the ideas offered on this blog give detailed descriptions on how to complete these art projects and explain how the project can be tied into the recovery process. These works of art are relatively simple to complete and supplies are cost effective.

Art therapy is a way for the recovering addict to participate in a meaningful, inspiring and constructive activity. It is a therapeutic tool that allows for self-expression and encourages the artist to take on a new view of life!

New Hope Recovery Center believes in a holistic model of treatment and as such incorporates the use of art therapy into our programs. For more information about this or addiction treatment, please contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or email us at