Art-Making as a Source of Healing and Hope

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Counselor and Art Therapist Sarah Pitkin recently made a special appearance at Wake Up With Phoenix House to educate local referral sources about the Art Therapy program offered at Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic. Pitkin provided a colorful atmosphere with artwork created by former clients, and shared stories of healing and hope that surfaced as outcomes of various art activities.

artstory2Pitkin utilizes the Art Therapy program as consciousness raising for individuals to gain awareness of addiction. More specifically, she sees it as a useful tool that helps clients accept that they are powerless over the disease. “I’m blown away by the creativity and depth of their (clients’) process,” Pitkin shared. “Even clients who protest that they lack artistic skill create meaningful and surprising artwork. There is so much hope in recovery, and art provides an avenue to tap inner resources that will aid in the healing process,” she continued. By integrating art-driven activities into therapy, clients find it easier to open potential channels of healing to which they were otherwise resistant.

Some of the activities used during these sessions include: felted stones for grounding, masks to explore identity, mandalas for creating your new universe, and sobriety bracelets commemorating commitment to recovery to name a few. Clients engage in Art Therapy on a weekly basis in all programs including the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP).

artstory1Pitkin obtained a Master of Fine Arts, focused on sculpture and painting. When a career counselor suggested a Master’s program in Art Therapy, she was thrilled to apply her skills in an area where she saw an obvious need for healing. Her professional experience includes working with service members who have suffered from traumatic brain injury, as well as children with chronic illnesses. She saw the undeniable overlap of substance use and mental health and was drawn to the work of Phoenix House. She began working with Phoenix House in 2014 solely as an art therapist. In 2015, an opportunity became available for her to work as an outpatient counselor at the Phoenix House Counseling Center – Fairfax. It is easy to see that Pitkin has a true passion for her work and great healing has been a direct product. The art therapy program at Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic provides great value to the treatment experience.

Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic’s nationally accredited programs provide outstanding residential, transitional, and outpatient treatment with gender-specific programs available for both adults and adolescents. A Spanish-speaking men’s residential program is also available.

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