Transforming the Fire: Integration of art therapy into CBT residential addictions treatment program for men

by Catherine Karremans

The purpose of this study was to explore how the integration of CBT and Art Therapy in a men's residential treatment center would affect the treatment process. The author of this case study hypothesized that through Art Therapy, the feelings of pain and anger associated with addiction could be processed and mastered. The client emotionally experienced through the art, what he cognitively understood through CBT. Without the integration of both CBT and Art Therapy, the client could learn the basics of CBT, but may have continued to repress emotion. A non-verbal form of communication such as art can be a window to feeling and thoughts that may not otherwise be accessible through language. The research was conducted at a three-month treatment center on one male client who was a member of a group of 18 clients. There are 18 images and two poems demonstrated in this case study. Themes that emerged in teh art include self-acceptance, a valued connection with others, and a new found sense of pride and accomplishment. The integration of Art Therapy into CBT, the client could both understand his behaviour as well as release unconscious feelings and integrate these into his consciousness. The findings suggest Art Therapy enhances and consolidates the benefits provided from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.