Performing Art

Empowering Recovery Through Performance Art

Published on June 23, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

The power of art has been proven to benefit Alzheimer’s patients, trauma survivors, and those in addiction recovery. Finding creative avenues to activate expressive communication is essential to developing truth and empathy in times of healing. While there are countless benefits to many different forms of art, performance-based art forms can provide especially helpful therapy.

By uniting the forces of memory, vulnerability, and repeatable exercises, performance art pushes participants to embody positive change. The demands of each art form encourage collaboration and personal development. The catharsis of successfully completing a song, play, or dance reminds those in recovery of the joy that can come from sober lifestyles and that happiness is tied to something other than a substance.

Each art form, just like each person in recovery, is unique. Similarly, the benefits of different performance arts are also different. For instance, not everyone will have the same relationship with acting as they would a rock band. Others may take solace in more than one type of performance. If you or someone close to you are struggling with addiction, consider looking into one of these art forms. The simple act of asking alone just might be life-changing.

Music Performance

Students of music take away important life lessons, in addition to the beneficial effects it has on the brain. Musicians hone their senses and exercise mindful focus through the measurement of time. Many musicians view the act of playing music as an extension of meditation. Music is a particularly rewarding pursuit for people in recovery because it allows for many different talents to share in the same experience together.

A singer/songwriter operates with a wholly different skill set in comparison to a symphonic violinist, or a folk singer. Still, they share a mutual understanding under the umbrella of music. Practicing songs can improve memory and focus. People in recovery find the expression they exercise through music to be unparalleled in working through their vulnerability.


Dancing connects the body and mind and is a tremendous workout as well as a dynamic way to express deeply internalized emotions. Dancers are reminded of the physical world, along with their own physicality. It is also an art form that can be extremely emotionally healing. The interplay of movement and music alleviates deeply entrenched emotions that we may not even know have been stirring deep down.

On a cardiovascular level, dancing yields many positive effects on health. The increase of blood flow assists in the circulation of oxygenated blood, replenishing muscle groups, and regulating metabolic processes. In short, the act of dancing can help our body and mind increase the rate of healing. Lastly, dancing offers a community for those committed to physical expression.


For anyone who may feel overwhelmed when it comes to rhythm, acting may be the performance art form for you. Studying a character for extended periods of time helps to illuminate overlooked truths about the human condition while suspending the desires of our own ego. Inhabiting a space that allows for amplified emotion accelerates one’s ability to identify and express emotions once offstage, as well.

There are many different avenues for actors to pursue: theater, film, standup comedy, improv, and even clowning. All of these can be greatly helpful for anyone looking to better understand who they really are, but for those in recovery, these forums provide the space to be vulnerable with themselves and others.


Performing poetry has a way of bringing the thoughts on a page into existence. Expressing yourself through poetry and writing is a chance to let emotions out that might otherwise be left inside and possibly unexamined. Encouraging the presence of prose into our thoughts helps to reframe our perspective of the world by allowing us to exercise precision, control, and truth in our communication.

People in recovery use poetry for many reasons. Poems can help to mend the feelings of failure or inadequacy that might come up. More importantly, sitting down to write and practice composing poems means the poet will actively spend time reflecting and searching for honesty in their experiences. This gives us the opportunity to work through the nagging feelings, whatever they may be. The strength required to share these feelings is reviving for the spirit and can validate the decisions of choosing a sober lifestyle.

Anyone who is struggling with addiction, and may be feeling the urge to consume alcohol and/or substances should remember these outlets available to express their feelings of vulnerability. Harnessing our energy into creative endeavors means choosing creation over destruction.

Expressing the emotions we feel through recovery is challenging. In order to better understand our own feelings, we can communicate them viscerally. Art Therapy is a great way to process complex feelings. Helping clients return to healthy functioning, whether that be on a social, emotional, or cognitive level, is the fundamental goal of Art Therapy. It can be exceptionally useful in the treatment of individuals who have experienced personal trauma. Visual media allows the release of tension and fear behind difficult memories and experiences to be explored in a safe and expressive environment. This creative outlet gives our clients in recovery a sense of control that may be lacking in life. In this way, art can become an effective coping strategy for dealing with the challenges of early recovery. If you or your loved ones are ready to begin living alcohol and substance-free lives, please call our admissions staff at (866) 399-6528.