Overcoming addiction is a highly personal matter, without universal one-size-fits-all solutions. Each addiction occurs due to different situations and circumstances – so it’s thus imperative to personalize therapies to individuals, rather than try to fit every individual into rigid programs. To do so effectively, we at Bright Futures Treatment Center have embraced therapeutic activities as an integral part of holistic rehabilitation. The location of our rehab center in Palm Beach has also informed this decision, as it has opened up more possibilities in this front. To explore both, let us delve into which therapeutic activities best complement traditional rehabilitation therapies.
Defining therapeutic activities
First, let’s briefly define “therapeutic activities” as a term. This will offer some valuable context as we delve deeper into this subject.
The term “therapeutic” derives from New Latin therapeuticus (“curing, healing”), which itself derives from Ancient Greek θεραπευτικός (therapeutikós, “attentive, helpful, obliging, curative”). It largely has two meanings:
- Of, or relating to therapy.
- Having a positive effect on the body or mind.
The difference with the term “therapy” is subtle, but notable.
“Therapy” derives from From New Latin therapīa, which itself derives from Ancient Greek θεραπεία (therapeía, “service, medical treatment”). As you can see, “therapy” much more often carries the meaning of medical assistance – albeit not always. “Therapeutic”, instead, doesn’t; such an activity can relate to, or augment therapy, but does not require medical assistance. Rather, it can be therapeutic as long as it has “a positive effect on the body or mind”.
This distinction is notable for one key reason; therapeutic activities are non-invasive, and typically non-medical. Instead, they’re activities that holistically help patients deal with addiction across rehab stages.
Because of this, therapeutic activities come in various forms, have different goals, and often accompany different rehab stages. They’re not rigid, nor are they compulsory; they’re personal, optional components of therapy that can help drive the journey to recovery forward.
Therapeutic Activities and Holistic Rehabilitation
With this definition in mind, therapeutic activities come in different types that address different rehab challenges. They vary quite significantly, but here we can consolidate them down to five main types. As we do, we will outline how embracing them aids us in our mission to provide impeccable recovery journeys.
#1 Physical recovery
Perhaps the best-known type, this one seeks to heal the body. Therapeutic activities of this type may begin as early as during Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), and continue into post-rehab aftercare. These activities address the body’s needs, especially in cases where long-lasting addiction has harmed it.
The first and most famous example of this type is of course exercise. Several addictions can leave the body weak through muscle deterioration. To address this, physical activities that exercise the body can help it heal and facilitate an easier addiction recovery. This expansive type can include climbing, cycling, jogging, swimming, and more, depending on the individual’s interests, needs, and location. In all cases, exercise can also have very notable psychological benefits, as the American Psychological Association finds.
A second very notable example of this type of therapeutic activities is cooking. Many addictions can lead to malnutrition, leaving the person with severe nutritional deficiencies – as MedicinePlus notes. Alongside consultations with dieticians throughout recovery, coking can help the individual keep their body healthy throughout and after rehab. This activity may also have recreational value, and help boost the individual’s confidence and self-reliance.
#2 Mental help
The second type, which rehabilitation centers in Palm Beach frequently offer, is therapeutic activities that help heal the mind. Mental health problems and addictions are often co-occurring, as the dual diagnosis principle finds.
A well-known activity of this kind is walking. This simple activity carries a wealth of psychological benefits, alongside its physical ones, as WebMD finds, including:
- Improved sleep
- Stress relief
- Improvement in mood
- Increased energy and stamina
- Increased mental alertness
Walking can also be an excellent recreational activity, depending on the individual’s location. One may walk through serene forests, liberating mountains, or quiet towns. Should you choose Bright Futures Treatment, our rehab center in Palm Beach will offer the option of Florida’s idyllic beaches.
Another example of this type is yoga, which our treatment center also offers as a holistic treatment component. Yoga has also been found to improve mental health, enhancing the effectiveness of trauma therapy treatments in the process. As it does, it also offers physical benefits, which can themselves improve one’s mood and wellbeing.
The American Psychological Association dubs this the “mind-body meld”, and cites a study that seeks to scientifically pinpoint said benefits in the brain:
“In a 2007 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Vol. 13, No. 4), researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital used magnetic resonance imaging to compare levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) before and after two types of activities: an hour of yoga and an hour of reading a book. The yoga group showed a 27 percent increase in GABA levels, which evidence suggests may counteract anxiety and other psychiatric disorders. GABA levels of the reading group remained unchanged.”
#3 Emotional support
The third type of therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer addresses the individual’s emotional needs. This type is somewhat distinct from psychological support, in that an individual who no longer struggles with mental health may still require emotional support.
A staple practice in rehabilitation therapy, group therapy sessions offer an excellent example of emotionally supportive activities. Unlike individualized psychotherapy sessions, which primarily focus on the individual’s mental health and coping throughout the rehabilitation process, group therapy often focuses on emotional support through:
- Group dynamics focused on vocalizing and sharing concerns and challenges
- Peer support through shared experiences
- Preparation for everyday life through family counseling
For these reasons, group therapy comes in various subtypes to best serve each individual’s needs. SAMHSA identifies the five primary ones as the following:
- Psychoeducational; a type that focuses on education on substance abuse and its physical, psychological, and emotional impact.
- Skills development; a type that facilitates learning and skill acquisition toward abstinence from addictive substances.
- Cognitive-behavioral; a type that seeks to change mental and behavioral patterns that lead to addiction or facilitate relapse.
- Support; a more emotionally-focused type that leverages group dynamics to assist in recovery.
- Interpersonal process psychotherapy; a similarly emotionally-focused type that centers on overcoming past harmful behaviors.
In addition, group therapy often establishes the foundation for support groups post-rehab. Support groups, while more traditionally therapeutic and less recreational, can also have vast emotional benefits. MayoClinic identifies the following among others:
- Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
- Reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
- Improving skills to cope with challenges
- Staying motivated to manage chronic conditions or stick to treatment plans
- Gaining a sense of empowerment, control or hope
The fourth type of therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer focuses on facilitating socialization. A wealth of factors often makes these activities necessary, such as:
- Addiction’s social stigma
- Co-occurring mental health issues that cause social isolation, such as depression
- Emotional stress and social anxiety that inhibit socialization
Needless to say, a lack of socialization can fuel such conditions as well. For example, a depressed individual with no strong social circle and peer support will often experience deeper depression. This kind of vicious cycle can severely inhibit rehabilitation, as NIH also finds that:
“Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation (e.g., by gender and race) at the population level. Studies show that social relationships have short- and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health”.
This is also a key reason why socialization plays a crucial role in preventing and treating addiction in younger individuals. Schools use this principle to support students on their road to recovery, for an example of this in action.
Therapeutic activities of this type can vary considerably, depending on the individual, the programs they follow, and other factors. Still, they typically include outings, group activities such as sports, attending events and support groups, among others.
#5 Recreational activities
The fifth and final type of therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer comes in recreational activities. This type may not have as focused a purpose as the others, but is still extremely valuable toward successful rehabilitation. Recreational activities enhance mental health, bolster the individual’s emotional health, and allow for integration into everyday life.
This type is of course vast, and can include a wide array of activities. A prime example lies in art therapy, which in itself can include:
These activities also follow APA’s “mind-body meld” principle, which research supports has positive effects alongside recreation:
“We observed ways in which artmaking may serve multiple purposes at different time points in treatment, such as, getting in touch with bodily pain that was rooted in difficult childhood experiences, thus, paving the way for the transformation of implicit somatic information to explicit emotional content. Later in treatment, artmaking was observed to possibly assist our client to engage in reflective practices, perspective taking and cognitive decision making.”
Recreational activities can also include ones of aforementioned types, such as cooking, walking, yoga, sports, outings, and others. For this type, such activities primarily serve to satisfy the individual – alongside their other established benefits.
Notably, recreational activities can also accompany an individual throughout the recovery process, and are often encouraged early. Depending on what the individual can bring with them, such simple activities as journaling, reading, and listening to music can also offer substantial value. These activities are also entirely up to the individual, which in itself can help inspire a sense of self-sufficiency.
Therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer
With those types in mind, we can now delve into specific therapeutic activities Bright Futures Treatment and our peers offer. Having established their benefits above, we can more easily convey their value to holistic treatment toward a better life.
Walks on the beach
Easy access to Florida’s idyllic Palm Beach allows for weekly walks on the beach. Proximity to the beach by itself has notable benefits to rehabilitation, as research finds:
- Health & Place found that “individuals reported significantly better general health and mental health when living nearer the coast”.
- A study published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal finds that “blue enhances performance on a creative task”.
- Richard Shuster, PsyD, clinical psychologist and host of The Daily Helping podcast, finds that “staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state”.
However, walking on the beach also has a wealth of benefits of its own, most notably for mental health. Ample research supports this as well, including an oft-cited study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. This allows us to offer this option with confidence, as Bright Futures Treatment is located 3.5 miles from the beach. Through weekly walks on the beach, our clients can relax and take in the soothing scenery, enjoying the above benefits. As they do, they will also get opportunities to engage in many water-based sports and activities too, if they wish.
Paddle boarding, or standup paddle boarding (SUP), is an excellent example of such activities. This activity allows our clients to experience the ocean in a new way, while also getting physical exercise. As a water sport, it belongs to many of the above types of therapeutic activities – most notably physical and recreational.
Of course, exercise also has mental and emotional benefits as well, as outlined above, which also facilitate successful rehabilitation.
An alternative to paddle boarding and other water sports, kayaking is another option with a wealth of benefits. It also allows our clients to get exercise and enjoy the sea, while also experiencing a mental rejuvenation.
Kayaking does come with the challenge of requiring appropriate locations, which is why not all addiction treatment centers offer it. Fortunately, our location in Boynton Beach tackles this challenge; easy access to Palm Beach and Everglades presents many unique kayaking locations to explore and enjoy.
Another water sport, and the final one on this list, snorkeling comes with physical and psychological benefits like the above. Unlike them, however, it offers entirely different explorations of the ocean and sea life.
Snorkeling is also a relatively demanding activity, as it requires equipment and ideal snorkeling locations. Because of these challenges, few treatment centers offer it – despite its benefits to recovery. Thankfully, it’s also one of the therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer, exactly because of their location.
The final water-based activity on this list, fishing also comes with distinct mental health benefits. On this, OntarioParks notes that:
“Fishing requires lots of focus and awareness. This takes your mind off internal conflict and stress, similar to meditation. As a result, it helps to reduce anxiety, fight off depression, and promote relaxation. Studies have shown that fishing lowers your cortisol levels (otherwise known as the stress hormone). This positive effect can last for as long as three weeks after a fishing trip. Fishing has even been used to help people who have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD.”
For these reasons, fishing offers an excellent alternative to physically demanding water sports. If our clients prefer to enjoy the ocean in different ways, they may enjoy this relaxing activity instead. Finally, due to our tropical location, they may catch fish they’ve never seen before.
The ocean aside, then, Florida also offers a wealth of opportunities for other therapeutic activities. One that we at Bright Futures Treatment particularly enjoy is paintball, which we play at least once to twice a month.
As a group activity at its core, paintball comes with self-evident socialization benefits. Clients need to form groups, coordinate, and work on building teamwork. This aspect of paintball alone gives it a unique benefit few other therapeutic activities can offer. In addition, its physical aspect allows clients to get physical exercise, with all the benefits that follow it.
Yoga and meditation
Should our clients need to relax and enjoy serenity, our treatment center also offers yoga and meditation groups and activities. These are an integral part of holistic therapy, and come with ample mental and emotional health benefits.
These activities have well-documented effects on physical health, spiritual growth, and emotional well-being, as highlighted above. Among them, WebMD highlights the following:
- Release helpful “feel-good” brain chemicals.
- Relieve depression.
- Reduce stress.
- Ease anxiety.
- Improve sleep.
- Promote other healthy habits.
In group settings, they can also offer another means of socialization – as WebMD also notes social life enhancements. Alongside it, yoga’s practices, such as coordinated breathing, allow clients to feel a deeper sense of belonging. Our staff has noted such effects manifold over the years, which makes us even more confident in our holistic therapies.
Despite their relative popularity in recent years, yoga and meditation remain activities not many have tried before. For this reason as well, we encourage our clients to experience them at least once – and see if they can assist their journey to recovery.
Finally, outings are also an integral part of recovery for many of our clients. Group outings also facilitate socialization, while offering recreational activities that further help the mind heal alongside the body. Rehab centers in Palm Beach and elsewhere will often offer this option in later recovery phases, and so do we at Bright Futures Treatment.
Outings are a key component of our Alumni program, where even clients in aftercare can reach out and socialize. In monthly outings, our clients, alumni, and their guests can engage in such activities as:
- Ice skating
- Airboat rides
- Beach trips
These and other activities help our current clients recover and grow, as well as our alumni remain in contact. Thus, outings don’t cater to one group or one recovery phase; they are for everyone in the Bright Futures family.
Therapeutic activities throughout the recovery process
On that note, here we may also explore how different therapeutic activities enhance the entirety of the recovery process. Exactly because such activities are so vast, they can serve different purposes at different stages of addiction treatment – but always with the same overarching goal of a successful recovery.
#1 Early rehab stages
First, intensive rehabilitation will typically begin with an inpatient program. At this stage, the individual is often struggling to cope with withdrawal symptoms as their body adjusts to substance freedom. At the same time, they are often still psychologically and emotionally vulnerable.
This crucial phase of recovery is often the most difficult, and the individual requires the most support in clinical settings. Exercise will often be equal parts necessary and beneficial, as will counseling by dieticians to ensure proper nutrition. Psychological support through individualized psychotherapy will also often be crucial. In this context, any therapeutic activities the individual can and wants to take up will offer immense help.
#2 Throughout rehab
As addiction treatment advances to an outpatient program, the individual will continue their journey to recovery. At this stage, physical symptoms will often dissipate, but psychological and emotional symptoms will often emerge in force. Supervision is often still necessary to prevent relapse, and therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer will typically account for this in full.
As the individual moves to residential settings, options for therapeutic activities typically increase. Between these new options and this stage’s needs, our clients may now focus on emotional support and socialization. Activities like walks on the beach, water sports, and yoga will help psychologically as well, while group counseling and group-based activities will help them socialize and prepare to reintegrate into everyday life.
Once rehabilitation has been achieved, the final stage of treatment comes in an aftercare program. Now free from addiction, the individual will return to everyday life and start to grow personally, socially, and professionally.
Still, the ever-present danger of relapse remains at this stage. Therefore, therapeutic activities should ideally continue as well, as a relapse prevention measure. Individuals may now socialize with their peers and friends they made during their journey, enjoying peer support as they do. Recreational activities such as sports and outings will help to do so as well, alongside their physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Unfortunately, relapse remains rather common – so such therapeutic activities can cultivate a healthy state of mind to help prevent it.
To summarize, the unique therapeutic activities that luxury rehab Palm Beach centers offer typically leverage their favorable location. These typically include water sports that carry physical, mental, and emotional benefits to individuals in need of addiction treatment. Other such activities include paintball, yoga, and outings, that also seek to encourage socialization, build meaningful bonds, and spiritually uplift.
Therapeutic activities will differ drastically depending on many factors, but will always aim to make the journey to recovery easier. Different ones can accompany individuals through each stage of the journey, from the initial clinical admission to post-rehab aftercare.
We at Bright Futures Treatment truly hope you found this article useful. If you need additional information or would like to discuss treatment for you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our teams will be more than happy to help you in every way possible.