Sooner or later our treatment ends. If we’re lucky, our programs give us valuable behavioral coping resources to help us manage the situations that can trigger relapse, whether we have to avoid them or face them, head on. The strength of these resources often lives and dies by the therapies we use to cultivate them, which is why it’s important that patients are exposed to a wide range of therapeutic techniques beyond traditional talk therapy, such as art therapy, music-based treatment, holistic techniques and more. The more well-rounded a patient’s recovery program is, the more of an opportunity they have to learn about themselves and develop the confidence they need to maintain their recovery when they transition back into their everyday lives.
In addition to the various relapse-prevention benefits of these supplemental therapies, they can also help patients in other areas of their lives, including but not limited to:
Breaking Down Emotional Barriers – Sometimes we’re afraid to talk about our feelings or we just don’t want to. Fear, shame, self-consciousness and a variety of other behavioral factors often prevent us from saying what we need to say to make the necessary progress. Expressive therapies like music and art can help patients break down these emotional barriers and help them to unlock dormant feelings without fear of judgment.
Strengthening Confidence – Occupational therapy techniques encourage patients to begin, nurture and complete a realistic and identifiable goal, whether it’s writing a song, a poem, painting a picture or anything else. Although the quality of these works is never a factor in their success, as the journey is always more important than the result, the mere completion of these projects can foster a sense of accomplishment on which patients can build while further empowering themselves.
Cultivating and Strengthening Relationships – Depending on how far we choose to take our new interests, we may find ourselves building new relationships based on them. We can also use the behavioral benefits we glean from these techniques (patience, tolerance, empathy, etc.) to improve strained relationships with loved ones.
Though many continue to remain on the peripheral of established clinical practice, supplemental techniques have the power to change patients’ everyday lives for the better. The more we embrace these therapies, and the deeper we weave them into the fabric of treatment, the more resources we give patients as they endeavor continue their recovery and rebuild their lives, careers and families.