Dr. Ericha Scott On Healing Through Art Therapy
Doctor Ericha Scott was reading at a college level in fifth grade. But until that point in her life, she was considered “retarded” and almost failed fourth grade twice. It was private art lessons that changed everything.
Today, Scott has a doctorate in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family practice and the creative art therapy. She also has a master’s of education and a bachelor’s degree in the fine arts. She has been working with co-occurring addictions (chemical and behavioral) and complex trauma for 30 years.
“I use the creative arts with adults to address problems of addiction, trauma, grief and loss, anxiety and depression,” Scott said. “I tailor experiential activities to your needs. These creative activities are able to address your problems and enhance your creative potential at the same time. Art therapy is helpful to individuals regardless of a history of art training, skill or talent.”
In the last few decades, treatment professionals have seen an increase in the addiction potential of illicit chemicals available to the youth, Scott said. Not only are the drugs more toxic neurologically — including crack and crystal meth — they are also more accessible and less expensive.
“At the beginning of my career, 30 years ago, it was not often that I saw significant neurological damage until a client was a senior,” Scott said. “Today, more and more often I see young adults arrive in treatment with significant and life altering brain damage.”
There is a rise in heroin addiction across various and unlikely social groups leading to an increase in heroin overdoses. These deaths are due, in part, to the fact that heroin is more
accessible and relatively inexpensive, even compared to prescription medications for pain, Scott said.
“A serious problem is that heroin is much more potent today than in the past, which is why some victims are miscalculating the dosage and dying,” Scott said. “People do not often associate brain damage with heroin, but due to the phenomenon of ‘nodding out,’ users are starving their brains of oxygen and their motor skills (among other things) can be impacted permanently.”
Scott’s specialty is the creative arts therapies, trauma and addiction. She began her career in 1985 as a drug and alcohol therapist in Ft. Worth, Texas, for Care Unit Hospital, a large corporation that offered treatment for chemical addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction. At the end of her first year as a counselor, she had the lowest recidivism rate of any therapist in a 200-bed hospital.
“It is my conviction that the differential of success rate had to do with the fact that I included the creative arts therapies in my work,” Scott said. “All clients were required to write in a journal, paint and role play.” For those who are afraid to ask for help, Scott recommends speaking to a safe friend first. And it’s usually the friend that encourages them to get professional help.
“Shame has killed more addicts than just about any other phenomenon,” Scott said. “Shame, as opposed to feelings of remorse, is a false sense of being irrevocably flawed or inferior. Usually, the experience of toxic shame existed long before the addiction commenced.”
Scott receives thank you notes from clients from around the world, sometimes decades later. Some statements include, “I know I would not have had children if it was not for the work we did together” and “Thank you Dr. Scott, our marriage is still together because of the work we did 10 years ago, we are so grateful.”
She has been asked to contribute to a forthcoming clinical reference, “Integrative Addiction and Recovery,” to be published by Oxford University Press as part of the Weil Integrative Medicine Library series. The topic of her contribution is addiction and art therapy.
Scott opened her office in Malibu in 2007. Prior to Malibu, she was a trauma therapist for an exclusive program in Tucson, Ariz. While in Arizona, she was granted the alumni recognition award, as one of three recipients, out of 285 staff members.
“I have chosen to keep my practice small so that I can attend to my clients with focused attention,” Scott said.
For more information about Dr. Scott and her practice, visit: oceansidemalibu.com or drerichascott.com.