Using Art Therapy to Raise the Self-Esteem of Clients in Residential Treatment for Substance Abuse: The Comparative Differences Between Men and Women

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Sweeney, Linda
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
Promoting change and increasing self-esteem are crucial factors in recovery from substance use disorders. The costs from substance abuse are enormous and it has been reported that over 60 percent of admissions into substance abuse treatment programs were repeat admissions (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2002). This study was conducted with recovering substance abusers in residential treatment to examine the benefit of art therapy as a conduit for increasing self-esteem in substance abuse recovery. Prior to, and after engaging in art sessions designed to increase self-esteem, the participants took the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (1965). Although men and women come into treatment with low self-esteem, women also have unique gender-specific issues affecting their self-esteem. A measurement of difference between men and women was conducted. This pilot study showed that art therapy can be a part of the multi-faceted recovery process in both a qualitative and a quantitative approach.