The use of art therapy in the treatment of substance abuse disorders dates back to the 1950s. Through art therapy patients are able to express themselves through non-verbal, imaginative, and creative exercises.
Types of art therapy include incident drawings (a drawing of an incident that occurred while using substances), drawing/painting emotions, stress painting (painting during times of anxiety and/or stress in order to relieve feelings of stress), creating an art journal, and creating sculptures.
The benefits of art therapy are widely documented, such as decreasing denial, reducing opposition to treatment, providing an outlet for communication, and lessening shame.
Viewing, discussing, and interpreting existing art can help in group discussions, and can motivate patients to change by moving them away from reflection and into a state of action.
Equine therapy is more than just riding horses. Working with horses includes feeding and grooming as well as building a relationship. Horses are intelligent and sensitive animals. They have expectations from a person working with them, which requires trust and responsibility.
Working with a horse to build trust teaches necessary life skills for successful interactions with others. These skills include:
- Balancing internal feelings
- Improving confidence and assertiveness
- Developing understanding of boundaries
- Becoming more resilient and focused
- Learning critical non-verbal communication skills
- Feeling connected and needed
- Banishing negative emotions
- Fostering positive emotional growth
- Relaxing and being present in the moment
Equine therapy is also immensely effective for treating Co-Occurring disorders.
Music therapy is a more recent development in substance abuse disorder treatment, dating back to the 1970s and is used to help patients tap into emotions and needs that may be difficult to express through more traditional forms of communication. Music therapy is useful regardless of musical skills, background, or preferred genre.
Examples of clinical music therapy include lyric analysis, relaxation training, songwriting, musical games, and improvising music based on emotions or other topics relevant to treatment. In these therapy sessions patients go beyond simply listening to music to engage emotions, motivations, and barriers to recovery through lyrics and melody.
Studies on music therapy have found numerous benefits. For example, songwriting and lyric analyses are related to positive emotional change in patients, drumming is associated with relaxation and can be useful for patients who have experienced repeated relapses, and activities that apply movement to music are associated with a decrease in anxiety, depression, anger, and stress.