A set of clay-sculpted chess-like figure heads with different expressions seen in theatre masks.

5 Reasons I Use Dramatherapy to Help You Find Healing

Healing old wounds takes time. There is no such thing as a magic pill or quick-fix solution. You know that. But it’s something you long for. Maybe that’s why you’re drawn to the idea of finding the one thing that will finally help you think your way out of pain. That will snap you into new ways of behaving and being. For the busy and easily frustrated, you may even think to yourself, “If only I could melt away my problems by following 5 easy steps, then I’d be sorted.”

Therapy for Busy Londoners

You’ve probably done some research in your own time. Therapy crosses your mind. You feel yourself gravitate towards the therapy that promises you results with the least amount of pain and in the shortest amount of time. Ideally in 6 sessions or less. Perhaps that’s why practical and solution-focused therapies are so popular. But can they reach the deep wounds that you truly want to heal?

Many types of therapies focus on the cognitive and the behavioural. The rational, left side of the brain and the way you behave. You can learn or unlearn any unhelpful way of thinking or behaving. Once you understand the way you think and the way you act, you can change it by applying your newfound learning. What’s so difficult about that?

Getting to the Heart of Emotions

Remember, you’re human. You have feelings. Your emotions can take over at any time. Especially when something unexpected happens. Perhaps a trauma of some sort. And then everything stored in your knowledge bank gets thrown out the window. When this happens, you somehow forget everything you’ve learned. What you know to be the ‘right way’ to act and behave does not apply anymore. In fact, it’s completely inaccessible. All that matters is how you feel.

Your emotions are complex and can drive you to think and act in ways that feel out of your control. How you feel accounts for how you think and behave. Your emotions can no longer be ignored. If you’re wanting deeper healing, start with getting to know your emotions.

How Dramatherapy Works

Dramatherapy is a one-of-a-kind therapy that helps you listen deeply to your emotions. It fuses drama and theatre with therapy. It’s creative and expressive. You get to know yourself. So that you’re less likely to be caught off guard by your sadness, anger or fear.

Dramatherapy goes beyond role playing. What you create and who you become in a Dramatherapy session is not about escapism or moving further away from your problems. It’s about bringing you closer to who you are, the people who you want to feel connected with, and the solutions you’ve been searching for in life.

For example, objects and images are frequently used in Dramatherapy. You can explore your emotions using a set of therapy cards. You can learn better ways of coping and find greater meaning in your healing journey.

A deck of therapy cards called Cope made by Oh Cards

A set of paintbrushes dipped in multi-coloured paints on canvas

As a Dramatherapist working with adults, I use Dramatherapy to help individuals who carry a lot of stress, anxiety and worry in Central London. Those who run around a lot and take on too many responsibilities. Those who forget to take care of themselves and forget to have fun. Those who have a few skeletons in their closet and may even be at risk of developing PTSD.

In Dramatherapy, I often use creative art materials in the sessions. The process of making and creating is therapeutic and healing.

 

Dramatherapy for Deeper Healing and Change

  1. Have Fun and Let Go of Stress

As an adult, you have countless responsibilities. When your responsibilities grow, so does the pressure cooker inside you. You’re somewhat of a ticking timebomb about to explode.

When you make space for something fun, something creative – the very act of ‘doing’ and ‘creating’ can be stress-relieving itself. There’s an immediate outlet for you to let go. You get to work stuff out, right then and there.

When you have fun, you smile, laugh and feel positive. That’s because all the feel-good chemicals get released in your brain and body. In Dramatherapy – fun is allowed and encouraged. You get to work with your hands and your body. You bring your whole self into action.

 

  1. Get to Know Yourself

“Who am I?” It sounds like a question you hear from adolescents. However, the same question gets asked no matter how old we get. In times of stress, uncertainty or trauma, we can lose ourselves and find ourselves again and again at many points in life.

When you truly get to know yourself beyond your role within the family, the job you hold, or the presence you have on social media, you become more confident, sure and secure in yourself. Things become clear when you align who you portray yourself to be on the outside with how you feel yourself to be on the inside.

In Dramatherapy, we look at your words, your body language, your expressions. We explore the roles you play and look at new ways of being and becoming. When you see and experience yourself in a different way, your anxiety drops and your confidence soars. It’s easier to find new acceptance in yourself and bring out your best qualities when you’ve had a little taster of what it’s like.

 

  1. Slow Down

Our fast-paced society can sometimes send us flying to a screeching halt. You’re probably familiar with this: At first you’re busy and feeling a little overwhelmed. Then you find yourself in some kind of turmoil and it all feels too much. To cope, you shut down and shut out everything and everyone around you. When you come to needing help, you feel desperate and demand solutions that can snap you back into gear.

Like a pot about to boil over, you need to turn down the heat or find a way to let out the steam. To some, therapy may be seen as a last resort, something you only use to put out fires. However, in reality, most people don’t want to reach a point of burnout. When you give yourself the space and time to check in with how you feel, to take a closer look at what’s adding fuel to your fire, you’re in greater control.

Running on overdrive is linked to so many physical and mental health problems. The stress and panic gets trapped in the mind and body. When I use Dramatherapy to help my clients, I notice that when clients participate verbally and non-verbally by talking and engaging in something creative – they seem to release a greater amount of tension held in both the mind and body.

 

  1. Connect and Belong

Oftentimes, people reach out and consider therapy when they feel most alone. Even when you have loved ones physically present in your life, something stops you from sharing and connecting with others.

If you find yourself thinking “Nobody can see me, nobody can hear me, nobody cares” – this can feel isolating and may even be an alarm bell for your mental health. When you cut your communication with others because you’re feeling overwhelmed, not wanting to bother or be seen, or you’ve reached a point where you’re physically unable to reach out – that’s risky business if you’re not able to seek support.

Regardless of the issues you bring to therapy, Dramatherapy helps you to actively and consistently work on your communication skills. When you go beyond just talking, you:

  • learn new ways to break the ice when approaching difficult topics
  • move through communication barriers so you become more comfortable and confident with your feelings, and with sharing these feelings
  • feel less alone and be more connected to those you care most about

 

  1. Feel Safe, Secure and Strong

We all want to be in a place where we feel safe, secure and strong. When something on the outside shakes the very depths of who we are, how we feel, how we think and how we act – it can leave us feeling broken.

People who feel exposed and vulnerable at this stage cope in different ways. Oftentimes, I see people avoiding the very pain that’s brought them to therapy. For example, they discover something they don’t like about themselves or uncover deeper pain buried in childhood trauma.

Even though you want to reach that profound moment of realisation so you can move past the pain or grief, the human part of you that comes face-to-face with this wants to run away and hide. The magic about Dramatherapy is that it can work with deep-rooted trauma in a safe way that keeps you intact and strong.

Have you ever heard of the Greek mythology “Medusa”, a snake-haired monster who had the power to turn anyone who looked at her into stone? Perhaps that’s how you feel if you were to face your demons head-on. Only Perseus, the son of the Greek God Zeus, cleverly defeated her by using his sword and shield’s reflection to guide him safely into victory. Dramatherapy does the same: if you’re not ready or able to face your inner-demons directly, you have the safety of using different tools and materials. Dramatherapy works well with trauma and PTSD, and helps prevent re-traumatisation.

 

International Dramatherapy Week

It’s the first International Dramatherapy Week (21st-27th October 2019). Around the world this week, The World Alliance of Dramatherapy, showcases various Dramatherapy events and workshops. To learn more about how Dramatherapy promotes change and healing in other countries, follow #dtweek2019.

 


If you are ready to embrace deeper healing and are looking for mental health support, I can help.

Get started with a 30 minute phone consultation. Let’s chat.


If you have any requests for a blog post, please feel free to send your questions, comments or ideas to: jamie@ytherapy.com

Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.

If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/

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Creative Therapy

5 Ways Creative Therapy Can Help You Recover From Trauma

Have you ever been mistreated, judged or hurt in your relationships? If so, it is likely that you will be very careful not to put yourself in situations where you could feel mistreated, judged or hurt.

This idea applies to how you perceive and engage with mental health support. For example, if you think speaking to a professional could make you feel vulnerable, exposed or ashamed, then keeping silent over opening up may feel safer.

This fear is very real, and for some people, it can stop them from reaching out and taking that necessary step to get help.

What you’re thinking and how you’re feeling may not have words attached to them, so when something feels unprocessed, it may help to have a supportive space where you can express yourself freely and safely. Creative therapy can help you with this.

There are many widely recognised forms of creative therapy including Dramatherapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance Movement Therapy, Play Therapy and Sandplay Therapy.

 

Here are 5 ways creative therapy can help you recover from trauma. Creative therapy can help you:

 

1. Express your thoughts and feelings

You know when things are boiling over for you. The rational part of your mind stops, and your emotions take over.

Trauma disturbs and distorts the way you think and feel. Sometimes the chaos of it all makes it too difficult for you to understand what actually happened, and the order of events become shuffled and fragmented.

If you have a lot going on inside and you have been bottling it all up for a long time, then it’s likely you will need some sort of outlet before you explode (or implode). Creative therapy can give you this outlet to express yourself freely – whether verbally or non-verbally. Trauma gets trapped in the mind and body so having an outlet that actively encourages you to fully express yourself in different and multiple ways can keep the pot from boiling over.

The point is that you have an outlet to express yourself freely as you are and as you feel. It’s not about ‘being artistic’ or making something with aesthetic merit. There is no expectation that you need to be coherent, organised or rational in any way. The making-sense-of-it-all bit can come later. Oftentimes, the very act of creating something means you can experience it, step away from it, and then reflect on it. In this creative process, you give yourself the necessary distance to make talking feel a little easier.

People tend to take in information and process things more thoroughly when they have something visual to look at and something physical to take part in. By working creatively – for example, through writing, drawing and using movement, you engage with and stimulate the parts of your brain and body that have direct access to your memories and emotions.

 

2. Reflect on difficult and painful feelings at a distance and pace that feels safe for you

Do you purposely avoid people, places and situations that bring about painful memories and unbearable feelings? Part of you may be working hard to avoid stirring up anything too uncomfortable, but part of you may be wanting the opportunity to heal your pain and be free from this hold.

Therapy is meant to help you work through difficult and painful emotions but it’s important to know you don’t have to share anything that you’re not comfortable with nor will you be made to share everything all in one go. This idea of spilling it all out to your therapist can be terrifying for some and perhaps cathartic for others. However, it is important to work with an experienced therapist who can be sensitive to your personal experiences and limitations because spilling out too much and too soon can be re-traumatising. This is where working creatively can be instrumental in helping you share safely.

If you have experienced mistrust and hurt in relationships, it can take time to trust your therapist to begin sharing about yourself and the details of your experiences. By working creatively, you can find new ways of relating to your therapist and addressing your situation so that the focus doesn’t solely have to be on you and what you say. For those who have had their personal boundaries broken, felt intruded upon or experienced intrusive thoughts, the last thing you want is to feel pressured to fill the session time by talking about the things you aren’t ready to share.

Working creatively means you can work indirectly and at a distance without needing to go into detail about your situation if you are not comfortable sharing sensitive information at this point. For example, there are many ways to work with your emotions by working symbolically with the themes of trust, fear, betrayal, courage, etc. This is when working with imagery, movement, story and art can be helpful. Putting your thoughts and feelings outside of yourself to be represented in something else on paper, in an object, or as another character can help you work through your experiences at a safe and healthy distance.

 

3. Discover a new perspective

For those who have endured ongoing experiences of trauma over a long period of time, it may feel difficult to believe that things can be different and that things can change. You may feel stuck in your thoughts and perceptions about yourself and the people around you. For example, if you have been hurt in your early relationships, you may feel cautious and fearful of people. Sometimes without realising, you may replay familiar scenarios in your mind and then expect that you will always be treated by others in a similar way.

Let’s face it – it’s difficult to stop old patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving unless you begin to experience something new and positive. It’s like creating a new habit in your diet and lifestyle – you need to experience it, repeat it and integrate this into your life for change to be possible. Being told new information just won’t cut it – it may go in one ear and out the other because the rational part of the brain is finding it too difficult to process.

When engaging in something creative, you open yourself to experience something new. For example, in a Dramatherapy session, you may create a story and work with different characters where you actively engage and experience different roles and relationships. By doing so, you literally step into other people’s shoes and learn to see things from a different perspective.

 

4. Find your own answers

You may have experienced unhealthy relationships that have left you feeling at fault, that you’re to blame, and that you have failed in some way.

By working creatively in therapy, you open yourself to challenge these unhelpful thoughts and feelings.

Working creatively engages you in a process where there is no right or wrong way of doing something, there is no one solution, and there is no way to fail. You open yourself to the possibility for change and you can feel empowered when you find your own answers.

The therapist is not the all-knowing, solution-making person in the relationship. When you engage in a creative process, you are encouraged to find your own answers. These answers can come from working ‘outside of the box’. In this process, people often find new ways of viewing their problems, and then from this, find new answers that feel right for them. With so many possibilities, there comes new hope for change and recovery.

 

5. Develop your confidence and self-esteem

Therapy is a space that welcomes all feelings.

There will be times when you may need to express more painful feelings, however, it is important to remember to make space for the positive, strong and healthy parts of you too. Not all sessions will or should be full of pain, sadness and anger. Several times I have been told by my clients that they found their sessions to be “fun” and “enjoyable”.

Creative therapy can help you balance the dark with the light. For example, as a Dramatherapist, I have helped clients create their own games where they can try out new rules and explore their limitations; play a different role to how they see themselves in their everyday life; write a story to explore the relational dynamics and conflicts, and to imagine different resolutions. These creative outlets can be fun, relaxing, invigorating, inspiring and strengthening.

Working creatively actively encourages you to make different choices, find your own voice and experience your own sense of agency. All in all, this process can help you to get to know yourself better. When you feel more self-assured and grounded in who you are, you can experience greater confidence and self-esteem.

 

If you have any requests for a blog post, please feel free to send your questions, comments or ideas to: jamie@ytherapy.com

Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.

If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/

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