Art as Therapy: Transforming Recovery with Sarah Smith
June 10, 2024

Art as Therapy: Transforming Recovery with Sarah Smith

In this episode of "Sisters in Sobriety," Sonia and Kathleen explore the powerful role of art in healing, wellness, and recovery from alcohol use disorder. Joined by Sarah Smith, the compassionate owner of Soulful Art Therapy, the discussion delves into how art therapy can transform lives, providing a unique and effective outlet for emotional expression and long-term sobriety. Today, Sonia and Kathleen will guide you through the fascinating world of art therapy, sharing insights and stories of transformation.

Sarah is a passionate artist and non-traditional art therapist, owning Soul-Full Art Therapy where she helps individuals explore the wellness benefits of the creative process. Sarah is a member of the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) and has chosen to maintain her focus on art for wellness rather than merging with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). She facilitates art workshops at Sweet Spot Family Counselling and offers private sessions for individuals seeking a creative outlet for wellness. Her services are not a replacement for therapy and are not covered by insurance, serving instead as a tool for healing and recreation.

This episode unpacks the multifaceted role of art as therapy in the recovery process. Key questions addressed include: How can engaging in creative processes provide a powerful outlet for emotions? What are the unique benefits of art therapy compared to traditional talk therapy? How does art therapy support long-term sobriety and emotional well-being? Through these discussions, listeners will gain a comprehensive understanding of how art therapy can be a vital tool in their recovery journey.

 Listeners will learn about the core concepts of art therapy, including its ability to foster self-awareness, emotional expression, and healing. The episode highlights how art therapy can address common misconceptions and explains how the creative process can help individuals regain a sense of control and manage their emotions effectively. Sarah shares practical insights and examples of art therapy in action, demonstrating its therapeutic impact and the potential for profound personal transformation.

Sarah shares a touching story from her practice about a man who initially resisted art therapy but ultimately experienced a significant emotional breakthrough. This powerful narrative illustrates the deep impact art therapy can have, revealing underlying emotions and facilitating healing in unexpected ways. Through Sarah’s compassionate guidance, this story serves as a testament to the transformative power of art in recovery.

This is Sisters in Sobriety, the support community that helps women change their relationship with alcohol. Check out our Substack for extra tips, tricks, and resources.


[00:01:00] - Introduction of guest Sarah Smith, owner of Soulful Art Therapy, and her work in guiding people on their wellness journeys through art.

[00:01:34] - Kathleen discusses the role of art as therapy in recovery, exploring its benefits in providing an outlet for emotions and supporting long-term sobriety.

[00:02:03] - Sarah introduces her sidekick, Louie the dog, who might be heard snoring during the episode.

[00:02:31] - Sarah shares her background, how she became an art therapist, and her journey from being an artist to discovering art therapy.

[00:04:10] - Sarah explains why she chose to practice art for wellness rather than merging with the College of Psychotherapists.

[00:04:38] - Sarah defines art therapy and explains how it differs from other forms of therapy.

[00:05:30] - Discussion on common misconceptions about art therapy, such as it being child's play or requiring artistic skill.

[00:07:00] - Kathleen and Sarah discuss the judgment people face in school art classes and how it impacts their willingness to engage in art therapy.

[00:08:12] - Sarah explains how art therapy can help people in addiction recovery by providing a sense of control and a healthy outlet for emotions.

[00:09:13] - Sarah talks about the unique elements of art therapy that make it effective for those dealing with addiction, such as self-expression and emotional release.

[00:10:13] - The importance of the process and how art holds the space for individuals, helping to lighten their emotional load.

[00:11:00] - Sonia shares her experience with photography as a form of art therapy during her sobriety journey.

[00:12:59] - Sarah explains the various art mediums used in art therapy and how they are chosen based on individual needs.

[00:15:00] - Discussion on how the process of creating art, rather than the finished piece, is essential in art therapy.

[00:17:06] - Sarah describes the typical process of an art therapy session, including grounding exercises and personalized art directives

[00:20:09] - Sarah explains that the art therapy process for those in recovery is the same but tailored to individual needs, addressing physical, emotional, and mental aspects.

[00:21:00] - Discussion on how creating art helps people process their emotions by shrinking them to a manageable size.

[00:22:00] - Sarah shares a powerful story about an inpatient unit participant who found emotional release and self-discovery through art therapy.

[00:29:00] - Sarah discusses how art therapy addresses trauma and severe anxiety, commonly associated with addiction, by providing a healthy escape and emotional management.


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