Art Therapy

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” At the Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center, a picture is also worth a thousand emotions. Sometimes people have difficulties expressing their feelings verbally when they are suffering from addictive behaviours or have other psychological issues. Sometimes they don’t even know what their feelings are. But through the therapeutic discipline of Art Therapy, the unconscious can be expressed through visual communication. Trauma is often trapped in the brain as a sensory experience. Art Therapy is particularly effective in accessing those parts of the brain that may not have words but that are in need of soothing and release. Art therapy provides a way to get a healthy distance from the trauma, so that the effects of the trauma can be processed. The finished artwork serves to anchor new positive feelings and exists as a visual reminder of new ways of being.

The purpose of Art Therapy is essentially one of healing. Some of the benefits of engaging the body in painting, drawing, working with clay, or other forms of artistic expression include:

1. Mindfulness and being in the present. When we are engaged in creating without worrying about what it means, or where it is going, time seems to stop and this is a form of mindfulness.

2. Activating the capacity to play and enjoy, which are two important aspects of healing.

3. Expression of that which cannot be expressed in words, but which may be expressed through color or form.

4. Safe experimentation with different ways of being or new approaches to problems through artwork

5. Insight gained by looking at, and interacting with our artistic expressions.

The Art Therapist at Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center is professionally trained to provide the environment and the relationship for visual and verbal expression. She acts as a guide to help guests work through their personal circumstances. To benefit from this creative emotional outlet you don’t have to be an artist. You don’t even have to be particularly creative. You just have to open up to the possibility of discovering more about yourself in a new way.


“I wasn’t expecting Art Therapy to do much for me because I have no interest in or talent for creating anything artistic with my hands; be it with a paint brush, clay or scissors and paper. But I was curious to see how this works. Walking into the room and seeing blank paper taped to the walls and pots of paint waiting for erstwhile Rembrandts to get to work my heart sunk. This is going to be terrible I thought.

Our first instruction was to approach the blank paper with paint brush in hand and eyes closed. “Just make some marks on the paper,” the therapist said. Next exercise was to stand back and look at our creations. What did they look like? In my case, round circles going nowhere with one brush stroke sticking out. Other exercises were added on to our first attempts, and I was amazed to discover, with the help of the therapist, that what I had unconsciously put on paper was a fairly deep-seated sense of self-consciousness that had been affecting many parts of my life for years. I am so glad I gave Art Therapy a try. My approach to many situations has completely turned around and I’m feeling much more confident. And rest assured, up-and-coming Canadian artists have no worries that I may become competition in the art world!”

P. Buck, Abbotsford, BC