‘Art Changing Recovery Journeys’ by Glenda

173-7328_IMGBarwon Health Drug and Alcohol Services, together with Salvation Army Kardinia Alcohol and Other Drugs Service, facilitate ‘Making Changes’ – an ongoing therapeutic recovery group in Geelong, Victoria, for people healing from alcohol and other drug addictions. 

Art Therapy is used as part of the therapeutic processes of the group.  These processes provide insight into the difficult journey individuals undertake on the road to recovery. 

To recognise National Drug Action Week 2013, clients consented to sharing their recovery through a public display expressing their stories. An Exhibition entitled ‘Recovery Journeys Expressed’ was held at Deakin University, Waterfront Campus, Geelong during Drug Action Week – 17th to 21st of June.

The works displayed, created by many members of ‘Making Changes’, included mandalas, collages, drawings and photographs, some created in group work, others created by members in their own time.

It is hoped that the Exhibition helped to raise awareness of alcohol and other drug addictions, and the complex journey of recovery. Whilst some of the Exhibition works had a dark theme, others portrayed that recovery is a positive journey of healing, self-discovery and self-acceptance.

‘Making Changes’ lead facilitator Mark Randall said, “The art works created in group work (mandalas) are a visual representation of the inner psychological and emotional experiences group members have to the different therapeutic themes we work on in the group ‘Making Changes’.”

172-7262_IMG“There were over 10 themes that this art work depicted – shame, sadness, forgiveness, compassion, deep desire to stop using, emotional breakthrough (liberation), fear & fear of not using, anxiety, anger and frustration, pure potentiality.”

“The idea of art work in group is the inner expression of the psyche.  It goes beyond the logical and/or rational mind into the creative realm of the psyche.  For many people in addictions, the ‘rational mind’ is loaded with negative bombarding messages and the intention for deep inner change – always the case in most addictions – is found within through the use of creative expression.”

“To quote Cathy Malchiodi (a leading international art therapy expert), ‘When words are not enough, we turn to images and symbols to tell our stories. And in telling our stories through art, we find pathways to wellness, recovery and transformation.'”

 “The ability to be able to put something on paper in art form via symbols and images (in mandalas) is connecting to an inner insight, and empowering that insight and awareness is deepening the road to recovery.”

“In the words of Carl Jung, ‘A man who looks outside only dreams, a man who looks inside awakens.’

 172-7267_IMG“The group members were very proud to make their work available to be displayed. They believe that by sharing their therapeutic stories via art they may be able to help other people experiencing addictions to get the support to begin their own recovery.”

“The Opening of the Exhibition was a very moving occasion and there was a wonderful energy, as some of the group members shared their recovery stories and experiences of their journey in our therapeutic recovery group ‘Making Changes’.“

 ‘Making Changes’ Group hopes that their Exhibition, this year backed by Rotary, might become an annual Drug Action Week event in the future.

Glenda, member of ‘Making Changes’ Group, Geelong, Victoria 

Enquiries: Mark Randall – Barwon Health-Drug & Alcohol Services

Ph:  03 4215 8700   Email:  MARKRA@BarwonHealth.org.au