Art therapy is a very effective way to express feelings and gain insights into character. Clients are given a theme and spend the first part of the session preparing their canvasses. This is an important opportunity for people who have difficulty expressing their inner world of feelings verbally, to try to express themselves through art. The second part of the session is where clients describe what they have drawn or painted. The therapist and peers then give feedback of their impression and insights. Clients’ artwork is hung on the walls of the centre if they wish – to give recognition to artists.
Drama therapy provides an opportunity to uncover hidden, unresolved or problematic feelings. Through methods such as role play, clients learn alternative ways of dealing with life situations. They can explore new ideas and life strategies by playing different roles, helping them to see things from different people’s perspectives, enhancing understanding of the dynamics of human relationships.
Music, writing, dance – indeed any creative activity which our clients are interested in – is actively encouraged and supported at our centres. Recent examples included a band forming and performing at a number of events, a group of clients choreographing and performing a dance and dozens of clients getting involved in producing a DVD. These activities show clients that it is possible to have fun in recovery, whilst learning new skills. Creative activities also boost self-esteem, as clients overcome fears and experience a sense of accomplishment.
Exercise and sporting activities (optional)
Moderate exercise can have a very beneficial effect for clients in early recovery, building physical strength and quietening the mind. Once a week, a walk in the park, or a game of rounders or football in the good weather, allows clients to appreciate simple and free activities, whilst bonding with peers.
It is very important to learn how to relax and socialise effectively in recovery. Without alcohol and drugs, these vital social skills need to be relearned or sometimes learned for the very first time. Accordingly, we run weekly buffet nights with social activities such as a quiz night – an opportunity for everyone to have a bit of fun. Senior clients also have access to computers, including the internet, as part of a system of privileges at our centres.
Peer groups and support
Peer groups develop clients’ responsibility for themselves, with a number of different group formats. Peer evaluations promote clients’ insight into other people’s observations of their behaviour, both positive and negative. This enables each individual to be given the support and guidance that they need in order to continue on their journey. House and community meetings encourage effective communication on a domestic, social and personal level. Topic-related workshops provide focus on the recovery programme and encourage information sharing and identification.
All clients are assigned a buddy on arrival. This is somebody of the same sex, living in the same house, who has been at the centre for at least a month. The buddy will ease you into life in the centre, answering questions and supporting you with any worries you have. In Primary Care, clients are required to be in groups of three at all times outside of the centre, for their own safety and mutual support.
Often critical to long term abstinence is the understanding and support of family members. Clients are also encouraged to see things from the family’s perspective as well. We run family days to support the often difficult process of the client leaving treatment and returning home, with a new set of behavioural codes which they must apply to stay well. Families are welcomed at our centres and are given an invaluable insight into the illness of addiction, how we treat it and how they can support their loved one and themselves through the early stages of recovery. If deemed beneficial by the counselling team, one to one family meetings for clients and their families are available towards the end of treatment.
12 step fellowship meetings
We advocate very strongly that all clients should become involved in 12 step fellowship meetings to support their recovery, so whilst in treatment clients are required to attend external meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. This helps clients to network with addicts and alcoholics in recovery living in the wider community who have years of sobriety, providing great hope and encouragement to people in their first few days and weeks of recovery. It helps them understand that making friends with positive and stable influences in recovery will aid them on their own journey.