Modeling Nurturing Behavior: An Observational Descriptive Study of Invoked Images and Self-Nurturing Behaviors of Women in Early Recovery from Chemical Dependency

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Seymour, Arlene
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
Deficiencies in self-care behaviors are symptomatic in individuals diagnosed with chemical dependency disorders as addiction becomes the way to self-soothe. Existing research and currently applied treatment approaches do not specifically address the core need of women in early recovery to develop self-nurturing behavior. This observational descriptive study explores the effect of modeling the nurturing behavior of therapeutic storytelling and invocation art making upon drawings and behaviors of women diagnosed with chemical dependency in early recovery. Over a six-week period, once a week for an hour, the effects of combining invocation art making and therapeutic storytelling, two nurturing modalities on self-nurturing behavior were examined on women (n=7) in an outpatient intensive day treatment facility. Additional data was gathered by administering pre and post self-assessment questionnaires and free drawings to each participant. It was anticipated that the modeling of nurturing behavior with the art therapist as the storyteller would increase self-nurturing behaviors in this population, which would likely be reflected in their artwork over the course of treatment. Images produced and behaviors were considered for changes over time in individual participants and for similarities and differences between participants. The results suggest that this intervention would result in a greater investment in treatment and recovery because self-nurturing behaviors appeared to generally increase as seen in questionnaire responses, changes in images and verbal statements from subjects. Although further research is warranted to obtain conclusive data, the findings could possibly provide future implications to a connection for decreased recidivism and successful long-term recovery for individuals with chemical dependency disorders.