The Benefits of Art Therapy in Eating Disorder Treatment

Here at Canopy Cove, we try to offer groups that are both therapeutic and enjoyable. One of the things that we like to incorporate into our groups each week is art therapy. Not only is it a great tool for helping people to work through their issues, but it can also be a joyful and calming experience. Clients get to paint, draw, sculpt, and make a variety of fun and interesting crafts.

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So, what is art therapy, exactly? I think the American Art Therapy Association explains it best:

“Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”

How is art therapy used to help people with eating disorders? Donna Betts, an art therapist who has done extensive work in the field of eating disorders, found that, “Art therapy promotes self-efficacy, trust, new insights and awareness; provides freedom of expression; and, assists in confronting maladaptive belief systems about body image and food, among many other benefits.”

Art Therapy Helps Clients Recognize That Recovery IS Possible

One of the art therapy techniques that we have found particularly helpful with our clients is called the “Bridge Drawing.” We ask our clients to “draw a picture of a bridge going from one place to another. Specifically, please draw a landscape on one side of the bridge to represent life with your eating disorder. On the other side of the bridge, please draw a landscape that represents what recovery might look like.” Often, a client will draw a dark, ominous landscape on one side (to depict life with the eating disorder) and a bright, cheerful landscape on the other side (to represent recovery). We then ask them to draw a dot on the picture to show where they are in it. This is a great technique for helping clients to visualize where they are on the path to recovery. Throughout treatment, they can continue to add dots to the picture to see how they are progressing. This can then help them determine what steps they need to take in order to get to that bright, cheerful landscape of recovery.

Often, we use art therapy to help our clients express their feelings. Many of them have been out of touch with their feelings for years, and it’s amazing to see how a little paint or a ball of clay can go a long way in helping them to get back in touch with their true feelings. At other times, art therapy simply offers our clients the enjoyment and relaxation the eating disorder has taken away. It’s a truly beautiful experience to see joy return to our clients’ eyes.

Learn More – Call 800-236-7524.

Canopy Cove’s Eating Disorder Treatment Programs offer compassionate, comprehensive treatment for females, males, adolescents, and adults, who are struggling with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorders and Co-Existing Diabetes, Depression, and Anxiety. Equine-Assisted Therapy is an weekly part of the Recovery process at Canopy Cove.