High risk adolescents are difficult to engage in any therapeutic program.
This Changing Tracks program is an attempt to engage this population through drama exercises that do not look like therapy.
- These adolescents are generally not interested in self development
- They don’t see that they need to change anything
- They are unable to slow down their impulsivity
- Some are unable to experience the range of emotions
- They do not like academic like tasks
- They don’t see that they have a problem
- They lack self-regulation – usually more into sensing than thinking
- They are volatile, impulsive, unable to concentrate for any period of time and have poor short term memory
- They don’t want to talk about emotions
- They need to learn while doing something
Some adolescents are not ready to attempt self-regulation through cognitive restructuring. They need to learn to calm down their emotions and body sensations. Mindfulness in the Changing Tracks Through Life Theatre program is used to stand back, observe and track the sensations in the body, in order to bring the body sensations under conscious awareness, just as Segal, William & Teasedale (2002)*, talk about observing thoughts and not being caught up in them and not making dysfunctional thoughts the "enemy".
The program is also informed by the work on trauma by Pat Ogdon**, where mindfulness is used to develop awareness of the body, sensations of the body and the sensations that engender emotions.
People who operate on a high level of sensation, or have learned to dissociate, come to view their body as an "enemy". Learning to pay attention to their body calmly and without judgement, gives participants an opportunity to learn about themselves, experience themselves and come to accept themselves. It is a way of making friends with their emotions.
Bringing emotions and body sensations under conscious control is the first step towards self-regulation. The technique of observing body sensations in slow motion promotes self-regulation as the person learns that this helps in dissipating body sensations. Emotions become body sensations they are neither good nor bad, they are just sensations that can be tracked and observed and slowed down. This is a bottom-up approach rather than top down cognitive restructuring. This approach is important because many of the participants are not able to use their meta-cognitive function to self-regulate.
Bringing emotions and body sensations under conscious control is the first step towards self-regulation. The technique of observing body sensations in slow motion promote self-regulation as the person learns that this helps in dissipating body sensations. Emotions become body sensations they are neither good or bad, they are just sensations that can be tracked and observed and slowed down. This is bottom-up restructuring rather than top down. This approach is important because many of the participants are not able to use their metacognitive function to self-regulate.
By doing all of this through the medium of drama it provides participants with fun activities, feedback and involvement. It also give participants the opportunities to recreate some of their life situations that have been painful and rewrite the script giving a more desirable outcome.
Learning to put themselves in someone else’s shoes as an actor is a creative way of teaching how to put themselves in a particular emotional state and this will undoubtedly develop self-regulation and empathy. It also promotes how to change one’s emotions by thinking particular scenarios.
There is no other program that integrates a variety of approaches to enable participants to work in various modalities that ultimately leads to self-regulation through the use of the executive function of the cortex.
**Ogden, Pat., (2015) Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment: WW Norton & Co. New York
*Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, John Teasdale, and Jon Kabat-Zinn (2012) “Mindfulness based cognitive behaviour therapy for depression: Second Edition. Guilford Publications