Can dance therapy help you recover from addiction? Where can I find a therapist in Bangalore?

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What are the reasons someone might develop substance dependence (addiction)?

Substance dependence often develops as a coping response to trauma. Traumas can be any form of unmet emotional needs in childhood, significant threat to selfhood and/or life at any time in life, and persistent and distressing anxiety / low mood. People can also experience neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse throughout their lifespan. Traumatic experiences can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic low mood and/or anxiety, and relationship difficulties. People may experience flash-backs, nightmares, high levels of anxiety, persistent low mood, changes in behaviour (such as the use of substances), and changes in relationships (such as increased aggression, reduced intimacy etc). These changes can be extremely challenging to cope with. Each person develops their own way of coping, which may include avoiding reminders of trauma and keeping very busy to avoid thinking about or feeling emotions relating to trauma. People may also use substances to numb their emotions and the pain of their experiences. Sometimes the only coping strategy available is to use substances to numb the pain.

What are some of the ways to reduce substance dependence?

There are many evidence-based therapeutic approaches to treating substance dependence such as Individual therapy, Group therapy, Family therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Contingency Management (CM), and Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Most of these therapies use a trauma-focused approach which can also include integration of physical and emotional sensations to reduce distress (i.e. embodied approaches). Working with substance dependence means thinking together about the traumatic events in a person’s life, and the ways in which substances are functioning to help them cope on a day-to-day basis. There is an understanding that the use of substances was useful and protective for the person at some time in their life, for example when they were a child and did not have any other way to survive. Therapy can help people to think about the ways in which substances help them, and the ways in which substances don’t help them in their current adult life. This includes thinking about the impact of the use of substances on them as a person, and on their relationships with others.

What is Dance and Movement therapy?

Dance and Movement Therapy is a type of therapy that is aimed at reducing psychological problems through physically moving the body. The goals of this form of therapy are better cognitive, emotional, social and physical integration. This is an embodied therapeutic approach which helps to activate both the right and left hemispheres of the brain to reduce psychological distress and improve functioning in daily life. It is based on theories relating to the processing trauma, which often needs an embodied approach (i.e. something which activates the physiological responses of the body) along with cognitive processing (i.e. something which activates trauma memories). As traumas can be extremely painful to think about, many people can spend their whole lives not talking about their experiences. Some people may be able to talk about their trauma in talking therapy in order to process the trauma, and to improve their quality of life. For other people, the trauma may be too painful to discuss. In such situations, non-verbal therapies can be useful – for example, art therapies, music therapies, and dance and movement therapies. These therapies use an embodied approach to help the person express their emotions without having to explicitly talk about the traumatic experiences. In this way, they can process the difficult emotions safely. Dance and movement therapies also help people to connect with their bodies in a safe and playful way, which can become a new and more helpful coping strategy for the future.

How can dance and movement therapies help with substance dependence?

As substance dependence often develops due to traumatic experiences, embodied approaches are recommended. Dance and movement therapy can be used to support individuals to express their emotions in an indirect way, which may be easier and safer than talking about their traumatic experiences directly. In this way, Dance and Movement Therapy can help people to process their emotions and to develop new ways of coping which don’t involve the use of substances.

Also read,

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What happens in individual therapy and where can I find an individual therapist in Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata?

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