Alsana and affiliates have used art therapy as a successful part of our treatment plan for many years. Art therapy is an innovative development of psychotherapy, utilizing art media as a principal method for communicating.
The origins of art therapy can be attributed to Adrian Hill, an artist who discovered the therapeutic advantages of various art forms while in recovery from tuberculosis. It is a valuable tool in the recovery process of individuals with eating disorders as it gives form to feelings, concerns, and stress which otherwise may be difficult to address.
Eating disorders tend to function as a coping mechanism to mask emotional difficulty or trauma, where an individual will exercise extreme control over their diet as a way to manage feelings or situations which seem out of control. In recovery, better coping mechanisms are learned, and using art can aid the healing process. Through various mediums such as painting, sculpting, collage making, drawing or scrapbooking, patients promote an awareness of self, increased confidence and enhanced enjoyment as well as improving cognitive functions.
A particularly beneficial aspect of art therapy for individuals with eating disorders is the ability it provides to address issues with body image and body distortion. Through expressing perceptions, feelings and fears about themselves and their body, patients can compare this to what they are learning in recovery about their true selves. This can be an eye opening experience when the perception and reality of what a healthy person looks like have become so dramatically skewed.
When used in conjunction with counseling and treatment, art therapy can become an alternative coping tool in the recovery process, where patients are encouraged to creatively express difficult and overwhelming feelings and emotions that otherwise have been expressed through the control of food. The creation of images representing the eating disorder helps individuals to give form to problems possibly unknown to them.
Identifying and expressing thoughts and feelings allows an open dialogue, reflection and insight into the illness. Recovery provides creative problem solving techniques that can turn into lifelong healthy management and expression of self. By developing these skills and the ability to communicate openly, our clients take power away from the isolating nature of the illness and transfer it into making valuable connections in their community and progress on their road to recovery.