In my office, trauma and shame go hand in hand. However, I recently attended a training in DC that highlighted something so true: the emotion of shame takes center stage.
We as clinicians want to develop great treatment and relapse prevention plans, but where we fall short is addressing shame and guilt, the evil twins with whom no one wants to play nice. As the trainer in DC pointed out, “I focus on shame as it gets me more bang for the buck.” Many individuals with addiction are consumed with so much shame that it stands in the way of long-term recovery. A strategy called the 100 Dreams Journal is an answer to this emotional override. What is it you ask? Read on!
The 100 Dreams Journal is exactly how it sounds, a journal in which one says to him or herself, “what dream do I wish for today?” It can be something as small as, “I will physically visit another state” or “I will write a book.” The dreams should have a completion timeframe of 3 months. This dream journal gives one the permission to dream. And when that happens, one’s perspective has shifted from one of doom or penitence to one of joy. One can once again take an active role in his or her life.
How does this relate to addiction? The 100 Dreams intervention is meant to motivate individuals to think of themselves with love and joy, the opposite of sadness and despair. For me, it smells like something a solution-focused therapist would come up with, but in actuality, it was born from the positive psychology movement.
Individuals with addiction have perpetually felt judged and have lived in secrecy or silence with their addiction. Shame is the antithesis to hope. Why not offer an intervention that helps facilitate this process. So many times, individuals with addiction limit their options (e.g. “I’m not good enough”), or maybe others are the ones expressing these judgments. The point is, when we limit our choices, we limit our experiences. These individuals need to know there are no limits to what they can achieve.
Go ahead, tell your individuals suffering from addiction to start their journals.
Furthermore, this intervention is one that can go far beyond our clients. As therapists, we should employ this technique as well. My challenge to you: Come up with your 100 dreams, and take steps to achieve them (no matter how small) in the next three months. Do share at least one. Do you think you can make it to 100? I dare you.
My number 1 dream is to dance on every continent.
WhereinthehellisMatt? (2012). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwe-pA6TaZk