When looking for ways to connect with adolescent clients, the complementary music therapy of drumming can be powerful. Although some teens may be skeptical at first, those who have participated have reported positive results, including improved self-expression. Drum circles and drum therapy can help to promote and maintain mental, spiritual, and physical health. Like many other forms of music therapy, drum therapy can be powerful in the healing process of addiction and mental health diagnoses.
Using Drum Therapy for Healing
Music therapy is used for many types of healing, but drum therapy is particularly powerful in healing from substance use disorder (SUD). Psychologically, one of the most powerful aspects of drumming is its ability to allow emotional release. Powerful emotions such as anger, grief, sadness, and pain surrounding trauma, are released during drum therapy. These intense emotions can be processed and released in a safe and productive environment, with the therapeutic process allowing healing to occur organically.
Drum therapy also helps to create self-awareness and insight through the rhythmic, repetitive process, while the mind is in a more relaxed state and thoughts are able to flow naturally. The healing that occurs during the therapeutic process is more fully integrated through the musical, rhythmic process and the changes that occur in the state of mind during drumming.
The Physical Responses to Drum Therapy
Drumming produces a natural, pleasurable response in the body and creates a calming effect on the mind. The sensation of listening to or participating in drumming increases relaxation, which is essential during treatment and recovery. Drum therapy can also be used as a form of exercise, as it helps to reduce tension and anxiety and helps to facilitate self-regulation in the body. These physical responses can be very beneficial in healing the physical side effects of SUD and the symptoms of mental health disorders.
Drum Circles in a Social Context
Using drum therapy, especially drum circles, helps create a sense of connection between participants. By participating together cooperatively to both make music and help in the healing process, clients create emotional bonds of trust and friendship. They also learn to rely on one another and what it means to be part of a group. They learn what it means to fulfill responsibilities within a group setting and why each member of the group is important both individually and collectively.
Drum circles create a sense of community by coming together to create music for the sake of release and healing. Uniting in this cause helps individuals feel part of a larger group and create a connection with something bigger than themselves. Drum therapy helps to develop a sense of investment in the outcome of the recovery of others, which allows participants to see others in addition to themselves.
Drum Therapy as a Form of Self-Expression
While there is power in listening or simply following directions and participating in that way through drum therapy, there is also plenty of room for self-expression. In many activities, participants are encouraged to express themselves; drumming is particularly well-suited to self-expression. Changes in dynamics, tempo, rhythm, and intensity allow for a wide range of emotional expression. This complete freedom of self-expression can be incredibly releasing and rewarding.
Even those who are following instructed patterns and rhythms can feel a sense of self-expression. Drumming is another form of communication, albeit non-verbal. Sometimes, when clients are unable or unwilling to speak, participating in a drum circle allows them to express themselves—to feel heard. Some clients even prefer to participate as a part of the group yet feel a sense of self-expression simply by playing the drums with everyone else.
How Drum Therapy Provides Spiritual Connection
While drums are used within many different religions in many different cultures, drum therapy allows a connection to a higher power without the need for any type of religion. The act of drumming can create an altered state of consciousness which many consider a spiritual experience. Allowing themselves to let go and experience this state and connect with their spiritual side can be very healing for those who have been in active addiction.
The experience of drum therapy connects mind, body, and spirit through self-expression. This promotes wellness as a whole person, helping clients connect on all three levels of consciousness. Enhancing wellness in mind, body, and spirit can help clients not only to heal but also connect with other human beings on a deeper, more personal level. Drum therapy can help clients succeed where other types of therapy may not have been able to in the past.
Drum therapy has the power to promote healing and self-expression through music. Participants gain both physical and psychological healing as they connect socially and spiritually, learning to be part of something larger than themselves. Drum circles harness the power of music to promote lasting physical and emotional healing from addiction and mental health diagnoses. Sustain Recovery offers music therapy as a facet of our extended residential program. We serve adolescents with substance use and mental health diagnoses at our long-term recovery facility in Irvine, California. Our program is unique because of our extended length of stay which offers clients the opportunity to make a more gradual transition back home. We teach independence and accountability in a structured environment with staff who are passionate about what they do. If you have a client who might benefit from our program, call Sustain at (949) 407-9052 to learn more.