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Alcoholism - Creative Therapies
Creative therapies can be helpful in recovery by enabling patients to get in touch with their inner selves and express feelings without the need for words. They can also be taught new ways of relaxing without alcohol.
A 2013 study of 36 male alcohol dependents in Korea looked at the immediate and short term effects of three different types of music therapy sessions. The subjects engaged in 30 minute sessions of music therapy twice a week for six weeks. Singing, listening and playing instruments were each engaged in for two weeks. Pre-test and post-test measures of depression, anxiety, anger and stress were monitored. All were significantly reduced after sessions but there was no variation noted between the different types of music therapy. In singing therapy sessions there were differences in levels of depression and stress between sessions containing participant-selected songs and those where the therapist had chosen what to sing.
A second study of song-writing on motivation and readiness for treatment in alcoholics, combined music therapy with writing therapy when 99 participants were divided into two groups, one control who were to wait for their song writing time and had solely a pre-test of their psychological state, and the other group of experimental participants who were tested after the session. The patients’ composed song lyrics on the topics of “action”, “emotions and feelings”, “change”, “reflection”, “admission” and “responsibility”. There were large differences between the groups in motivation and readiness after the session, with the experimental participants showing considerably more favourable traits. Further research is needed.
Alcoholics Anonymous recommend a diary system as a way of keeping track of progress for recovering alcoholics. Writing therapies have been used for people who find the act of writing a powerful way to vent frustrations and stop all their emotions from being internalised. The act of writing can also allow the patient greater access of their own subconscious mind and enable them to see things more clearly when they review what they have written. Diaries also chart progress and show how time heals wounds. Addiction recovery blogs can also allow the recovering alcoholic more interaction with those encountering similar problems and anxieties.
This form of creative therapy allows patients to take a break from using words to describe their feelings and uses hands-on activities as a method of healing. Non-verbal communication can lead to increased openness about emotions that the patient finds too overwhelming to discuss. Some forms of art therapy help patients to subtly relinquish control over their preferred behaviours by getting them to work inn mediums they are not skilled in, or use their non-dominant hand. This type of therapy is frequently seen as a good way of gauging patients’ progress as in the beginning imagery tends to be angrier, while as they become healthier there is a notable change in mood. Art therapy for some alcoholics can resolve internal conflicts, become a new form of communication, reduce anxiety and stress while increasing feelings of relaxation and personal fulfilment. The two clinical studies that Patient QI found entitled “Integrating art therapy into an alcoholism treatment program” written by P B Allen in 1985 and “Art Therapy: A creative approach to alcoholism treatment” by L R Wunsch in 1984, are no longer freely available. More studies are needed to prove the efficiency of this mode of complementary treatment.
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