Drama is not just a thing for the stage. Drama therapy is a way to engage people in a therapeutic way. Psychotherapy is important for some people in treatment for addiction and it can have positive profoundly healing effects that transform the remedial process. However, different forms of therapy work for different people and scenarios and drama therapy is one where people are able to focus on releasing their thoughts and focus on feelings. This can be a helpful tool for those in recovery to look deeper into feelings they have previously numbed with substances. In a safe space, they get to explore deeper issues they struggle with but know they are not going to be shamed for feeling a certain way or trying something new to achieve some healing on their journey.
How Drama Therapy Works
Drama therapy was originally designed to help people with anxiety in the 1930s. Many people now embrace this psychotherapy as a way to treat addiction disorders and boost mental health. In group therapy or one-on-one sessions, people will experience a range of emotions in dramatic fashion by acting out scenes or expressing painful situations that have occurred. The key is to acknowledge how these things contributed to intense negative feelings that in turn led to substance use, and find a healthy way to feel and express them.
Start with Acting
Even if people have never taken acting classes, drama therapy can still be engaging and fun, while also bringing about healing. Drug and alcohol addiction, PTSD, and other issues are not barriers for people in drama therapy. During drama therapy, people are able to act out the things they face and evaluate their own behaviors, with tools such as props to aid them in the process. As they look back on past situations, they are able to understand them differently when given new perspectives from which to see. Drama therapy can have a hugely positive impact on people in recovery from addiction. Long term, acting out the challenges people in recovery have faced opens up the possibility of new avenues of healing long after rehab ends.
How it Works
Scenarios are carefully created and curated by trained practitioners and psychiatrists during drama therapy. Addiction is a common theme for everyone if it takes place in a treatment setting. People get the opportunity to look at their behavior, others around them, and role-play some different ways they experience situations, including addiction. When they use the lens of acting and drama to look at themselves, they begin to see how they can heal. Everyone brings different experiences to the table that can aid others, the root goal is to pay attention to the feelings that come up and learn to conquer fears about addiction in recovery.
Drama therapy is different than other forms of talk therapy. It is a way for people who abused substances in the past to take a look at this behavior and look for ways to change it. This might mean acknowledgment of the painful situations they faced. This will also include exploration of the root systems that brought on addiction and drug use. Fear and anxiety can be powerful emotions but tackling them is key in recovery, and if drama therapy is a part of treatment a person can learn how to navigate these emotions before doing it in the real world. This might mean looking for employment and how to go about that (in a dramatic way). Other scenarios might include how to make it through triggers and cravings without relapsing. Role-playing scenarios where old people and places trigger feelings to use substances can be important for healing.
One component of drama therapy is connecting with others who share a similar story. When people gather around to tell stories, they are sharing from their hearts what has been challenging and what is now in front of them. It is difficult to walk into rehab not knowing anyone or what to expect. With drama therapy, people connect in different ways and build a relationship. They begin to see how everyone is interconnected through their experiences and they may begin the journey of healing together with them in rehab.
Coping After Rehab
When used during treatment, drama sessions can address concerns everyone has about the process, addiction, and life after rehab. It is healthy to process these together as a group but individuals eventually have to take what they learn into the real world. A holistic overall treatment plan can help people role-play scenarios they might encounter in real life so they can work through them when they actually occur. When used as part of a complete addiction treatment plan, this can be a very effective tool. One of the challenges people face in recovery is feeling like they are taken by surprise when something triggers them. If these triggers are walked through in some way through drama therapy, it is less intense to encounter it in real life. This does not mean relapse does not happen but it can be used as another tool and safeguard to prevent it. The goal is to best equip people as they transition from the treatment space back into daily life in recovery.
Casa Capri is designed for women who are struggling with addiction to find hope and a purpose. We provide a holistic treatment model that helps women be vulnerable in a small, intimate community with other women looking to heal. Our therapists are trained to support trauma-informed care and drama therapy as part of the overall process. If you are ready for help with addiction, call Casa Capri today: 844-593-8020
Melissa Holmes Goodmon is the founder and CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, a leading California addiction treatment center created just for women—by women. Melissa is a licensed clinician and has stayed on the cutting edge of women’s treatment since 2006. Because of her own beautiful recovery story, she is proud to be among a small group of trailblazers since founding Casa Capri Recovery for Women in 2011, leading the way for other women to join them in this otherwise male-dominated industry. She is considered an advocate for the recovery community in the truest sense, standing up to discrimination and legally fighting for the rights of sober people in recovery to live in peace. To learn more about advocacy or if you’ve experienced discrimination, you can reach her at email@example.com. Check out casacaprirecovery.com for more information on our program, or please give us a call at 844-207-4880.