One of the biggest challenges of rehab is that all the feelings and memories that were banished by the abusive substances come back and demand attention. Talk therapy can help as you come out of detox, but eventually, you can get really tired of talking. Creative therapies are a way to share your story with others and to make it easier to look at the really tough memories and feelings that must be dealt with.
You don’t have to be an artist, a writer, a dancer or a singer to have a valid story that needs to be told. Art therapy is about not talking and putting brush to canvas or pen to paper. If you’re uncomfortable singing, you may get to pick up a drum and set up a steady beat that allows you to breathe and free up your mind. What’s going on in your head and heart may not be pretty, but looking at these memories and experiences are necessary for healing.
When you’re involved in creative therapy, it’s just you, the art form and the therapist. For many in recovery, the idea of talking can be extremely worrying. First of all, you may have a “been there, done that” attitude and not have a lot of faith in the process. You might also have memories and feelings that don’t have words just yet, or that you’re not ready to share.
Creative therapies are private. If there’s a song you enjoy because it lets you cry, sing along with the recording. If you think you can write something even more poignant, do so. Red paint on the canvas is your color to connect to; it can create a spider’s web of memories that you can pick up, turn over, study and put back down. Talk about them when you’re ready, but study them in your creative therapy time.
You don’t have to be a great dancer to gain benefit from dance therapy, you just need to have some limbs you can move. One of the greatest sorrows of addiction is that you lose trust in your body and your brain. Our culture tends to treat addicts as criminals and addiction as a weakness. If you think of your suffering as an addict to be a punishment for your weakness, then glorying in the movement of your body will be extremely difficult.
Dance therapy changes that dynamic. Crank the music up loud and mirror your therapist. Talk or yell about any feelings or memories that come up. At the end of the session, write down what you felt. Play the music again to dig deeper into those memories or try a totally different piece. Addiction is about much, much more than the substance you used. Detox is just the beginning step of healing.
Writing therapies can take several forms. If you’re naturally a quiet person, poetry therapy may be just what you need to draw out your story in small blocks of text. If you want your poem to rhyme, the structure of that composition process may help you to manage the bigger, more challenging emotions that can crop up as you work through trauma in your past. You may be invited to read your poetry out loud or encouraged to share it with your therapist. Be aware that your creative output could be used as a tool to help others along their journey; your courage in expressing your feelings and your willingness to share could be a great gift.
Drama therapy is another form of writing and may involve more people than just you and your therapist. Again, be ready to be stretched a bit. It’s important to remember that human history lives in our storytelling past. The reason we have our tales, our religious texts, and our heroic stories is that someone, somewhere, learned them and repeated them until they came across someone who had the ability to write things down. By sharing your stories as a scene or dramatic reading, you’re tapping into the energy of your ancestors.
Your ability to move toward emotional healing will take just as much support and focus as did the physical detox. Once your body has been freed, your mind can start to manage the experiences and memories that will undoubtedly crop up. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day and ready to help you along this journey. Call 772-934-6580.