AHP News

New Art and Harm Reduction Group at AHP

Art & Harm Reduction Group

Can art heal the spirit and the mind? AHP is excited to take clients on a journey of discovery by offering a creative arts support group that will combine art and harm reduction as a new healing approach.

The first Art and Harm Reduction group is already filled and has a waiting list! “This is a clear indication that our clients are excited to attend the group where they can come together to express themselves creatively in community,“ notes Substance Use Counselor Charlie Dunkin, LCSW, the founder of the group.

This inspiring new program has been a community effort from its inception to the writing of a grant from BAPHR (Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights), designing a curriculum and securing supplies through a gift certificate from Blick Art Supplies. Everyone is eager to see this new group come to life.

Narrative Therapy as a Foundation for Art Techniques
Art therapists can channel maladaptive or dangerous instincts into creative products that allow clients to communicate and work through difficult thoughts and complex emotions.

Art therapy can influence a range of human functioning, we find, including self-perception and interpersonal interactions. Even a 45-minute creative activity can change a person’s mental state.” American Scientist

The Alliance Health Project’s Art and Harm Reduction group will be built on narrative therapy principles and art interventions—therapeutic ways to build awareness and reduce shame when exploring the motivations, intentions, and practices surrounding substance use. Using art supplies and artistic methods, participants can address and explore their mental health and substance use concerns, experience wellness and develop a sense of community with other people in the group. The group will be facilitated by Charlie Dunkin and Kevin Shone, and their goal is to create a space beyond talk therapy and to evoke self-expression, ownership and sharing of one’s story and journey, through creative self-expression.

Art therapy is not only for artists. It is about expressing oneself physically through mark-making and color from an intuitive place, rather than a place of realism or drawing recognizable objects. Participants will spend time drawing, scribbling, expressing, and exploring, in an environment that embraces their experiences, values, challenges, and goals, in the context of, and beyond their substance use. Art prompts can include “creating a tree of life” where the participants put to paper the things, people, skills and values that build their roots and support growth and “imagining substance use as a monster or other anthropomorphized creature.” These exercises encourage participants to separate from their drug or use patterns and reduce feelings of shame; allowing them to identify and engage with the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that influence their use.

We are grateful to be funded by BAPHR and Blick for three group cycles, or 24 new clients. Each group cycle will run for ten weeks of 90-minute weekly sessions with between eight and ten clients. Clients will receive personal art materials to keep so that they can continue artistic expression beyond their group experience.

How do I register?
This group is reserved for current clients in the Substance Use Disorder Program at Alliance Health Project. For more information on client services please call 415-476-3902.