Communication is a crucial part of recovery. Whether an individual is addressing their mental health, moving through their recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or trying to support a loved one through their struggles, communication is the cornerstone of progress. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone necessarily communicates in the same way. Even if an individual feels safe in their environment, they may not feel they have the proper tools to share their feelings, progress or struggles effectively. Learning about the various ways an individual can express themselves can improve the quality of their recovery and support and strengthen their drive to see their goals through.
Importance of Communication
If an individual in recovery is unable to communicate effectively, there is a danger of developing a recovery plan that doesn’t meet all of their needs or goals. In addition, a person may feel resentful or isolated if they are not properly understood when they do put in the effort to communicate.
Even far into one’s recovery, communication efforts need to be sustained to prevent relapse or provide support through urges or difficult emotional times. Completing a treatment program doesn’t mean that one’s recovery has ended. Instead, it indicates that an individual has learned many skills that need to be implemented in their lives — effective communication strategies included. While talking may work for some, others may find their most meaningful expression in other mediums. Making an effort to understand another’s best mode of expression can go a long way in continuing to reinforce trust and progress in all stages of recovery.
The Different Modes of Expression
“Talking” can mean many different things, just as “listening” can mean anything from giving another one’s full attention as others are speaking to taking time to analyze a piece of art. Each individual will have their own unique take on communication. It is essential to identify the medium in which those in recovery feel that they can best express themselves, both in their struggles and progress. Some different modes of expression are:
- Talking: a common way to convey one’s thoughts and feelings is through verbal communication. While this can be direct, there is also nuance to how a person may feel most comfortable. Some excel in individual, one-on-one sessions where they can feel safer in the privacy of their environment. Others may excel in a more public forum, where they feel as if they are not always the center of attention and can instead formulate a thought and share, and then observe the following discussion.
- Body Language: Words themselves may not always feel sufficient, and “listening” to another’s body language can be a better indication of how a person is feeling. Watching the amount of eye contact, standing or sitting posture, or how an individual holds their arms or legs can all be indicative of their deeper emotional or mental states and can be very telling when words prove ineffective.
- Music: Music is a genuine form of expression, and those who communicate best in music can do so in a number of ways. Sharing songs that particularly impact them, writing their own songs or lyrics, or even simple chord progressions can all be a raw form of communication. The tempo of music, major or minor key, dissonant or melodic tones, and dynamics can all express an array of emotions on top of any lyrics that may accompany it.
- Art: Art can take many forms, such as sculpting, drawing, painting, or even performance or fashion. Artists use this medium to give their emotions direction and a physical form. Taking the time to understand the meaning behind artistic pieces can be very telling. The subject matter, title, even the weight of the brushstroke are all different ways of conveying complex emotional states, whether an individual is working with still life painting or abstract art.
- Written Word: Some may excel by having time to formulate their thoughts and feelings on paper or even typed on the computer. Those who excel in this kind of expression may write in any form, either using the medium as a vehicle for them to edit their thoughts for verbal exchange or finding more significant benefit out of a more poetic approach less concerned with defined rules of language.
These are just a few ways an individual may seek to express themselves, and each of these mediums is equally genuine and effective as traditional verbal communication. Taking these communication tools seriously so that an individual feels understood allows for a more authentic “conversation” and helps build trust and individuality in each person as they move through their own transformational goals.
Effective communication is a part of every stage of the recovery process. It is essential to learn how you can best express yourself and be heard in your journey through addiction recovery. At Avalon Malibu, we offer a comprehensive array of approaches to help you discover your voice and can further customize your time with us to allow you to grow with your best interests and practices through addiction. Art therapy, music therapy, and a supportive, caring atmosphere of peers and professionals are all curated to allow you to explore every form your voice can take through difficult times. Whether you are struggling to feel heard through depression, anxiety, addiction, or dual-diagnosis, we can help you take the first step towards your own best communicative practices. For more information on the various ways we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.