Group Therapy

What Is Family Constellation Therapy?

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

The opening lines of English metaphysical poet John Donne’s (1572-1673) Meditation XVII suggest the interconnectedness of humanity. The lines could also be applied to Family Constellation Therapy, an alternative therapy that explores the relationships between family members.

According to Vern Morin, who is the facilitator for Family Constellation Therapy at Enlightened Solutions, this therapeutic approach is a little different from traditional family therapy. In a video description of the topic on the recovery center’s website, he says that in Family Constellation Therapy we “turn the brain off, and we feel.” Family Constellation Therapy is concerned with the “issues that we think about but don’t deal with, that we aren’t taught to deal with.”

What Is Family Constellation Therapy?

Developed by German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger, Family Constellation Therapy is a type of group therapy led by a therapist or facilitator with special training in the technique. In Family Constellation Therapy, the person participating or receiving the therapy selects other members of the group to serve as stand-ins for his or her actual family members. These people are arranged in a circle, called the family constellation. The surrogates or stand-ins hear about the family history or the issue of concern to the person receiving the therapy. Then the stand-ins are asked to describe how they feel or anything they think regarding the connection between the family members they are portraying and the person getting the therapy. This process frequently leads to a greater sense of understanding and empathy.

What Types of Issues Are Addressed Through Family Constellation Therapy?

Family Constellation Therapy looks at the family as a system and the individual’s role in that system. This can lead to exploring family relationships from generations back and how those impact the present. Family systems frequently have unspoken rules or laws, and problems often occur when someone fails to follow these laws. These are the roots of the beliefs we have that may not work for us anymore, may not be healthy, and may not even be accurate. 

This type of therapy can be particularly helpful when dealing with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. For these issues, people frequently talk about a genetic predisposition to these conditions or learned behaviors, that can carry on down through multiple generations. In Family Constellation Therapy, you may find that your current issues and behaviors have roots from previous generations that you hadn’t realized.

Benefits of Family Constellation Therapy

Family Constellation Therapy benefits the person receiving the therapy and the group members participating as stand-ins for the actual family members. The person receiving the therapy stands outside the circle and is able to observe dynamics and connections that he or she may not have considered before. The stand-ins are new to the particular situation--they don’t know the person’s family history and or the particular situation being addressed, so they can bring fresh insights and give the person different perspectives to consider. The actual family members being portrayed aren’t there, so the person seeking the therapy is free from worrying about the possibility of hurting their feelings or suffering repercussions for sharing a family secret. The people serving as stand-ins benefit in a couple of key ways. They may recognize aspects of themselves and their family generational dynamics and may gain a greater understanding of their own situation or trauma. In addition, being a surrogate in Family Constellation Therapy is a powerful way for them to be of service, which is an important aspect of the 12-Step philosophy.

The Role of Family Constellation Therapy in Addiction Recovery 

Because Family Constellation Therapy is useful in addressing and healing trauma, it is a very appropriate treatment modality for addictive behaviors because many therapists believe that trauma and attachment issues are at the root of the addiction. The trauma that leads to addiction can be multi-generational and historical or it can be a significant loss, such as the death of a parent in childhood, or violence. Moreover, addiction is viewed as part of the family system, rather than strictly an issue for the person dealing with addictive behaviors.

Future of Family Constellation Therapy

Hellinger originally developed Family Constellation Therapy in response to the trauma caused by World War II. The technique is widely used in Europe, Russia, Asia, and Latin America and is gaining ground in the United States. According to the Enlightened Solutions website (, Hellinger has “revolutionized the heart and soul of family therapy by illuminating the unconscious, and often destructive, loyalties within families. Family Constellation work is an effective therapeutic process that helps break destructive family patterns of unhappiness, illness, failure, and addiction. The Family Constellation approach is becoming one of the most rapidly expanding forms of therapy in the world and is practiced in more than 35 countries.”

Enlightened Solutions offers life-affirming therapies for those struggling with addictions to drugs or alcohol. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, which means that the center offers treatment for the mental health issues that very often are the underlying reasons for addictive behaviors. The center, located on New Jersey’s southern shore, offers a variety of alternative therapies to complement the more traditional talk therapy that they offer. One of the holistic treatment modalities offered is Family Constellation Therapy, which explores the family relationships that play a role in addictive behavior. Other holistic treatment modalities offered include sound healing, yoga, horticultural therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic work, massage, art and music therapy, reiki, and equine therapy. At Enlightened Solutions, each client receives a customized treatment plan drawing from these therapeutic options based on his or her individual needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call (833) 801-5483 today.


Art Used as Therapy

Art as Therapy

Humans have been creating art for many thousands of years. The earliest artwork discovered so far are cave paintings found in Spain. The paintings consist of hand stencils and simple geometric shapes and are approximately 64,000 years old. In a piece that ran in Psychology Today, Nathan Lents speculates about why humans create art. Art, he writes, is a visual recall of past events or emotions, and relies on “some knowledge and experience that is common between the artist and the audience…stored memories and associations in the brain.” Art can be an expression of beauty and can cause the viewer to have an emotional response. It is the link between art and emotion that has caused art therapy to be viewed as an important tool in the treatment of addiction and mental illness.

What Is Art Therapy?

In art therapy, a certified art therapist works with an individual client or group. The artistic form used can be painting, drawing, creating a collage, sculpting, or another visual arts technique. The client works on their artwork and afterward the art therapist will ask questions designed to encourage the client to think about the emotional and psychological aspects of their work: was creating the piece easy or difficult; any feelings about the process; any thoughts, feelings, or memories while working on the piece. According to Psychology Today, the therapist will guide the individual or group members to “decode the nonverbal messages, symbols, and metaphors often found in these art forms, which should lead to a better understanding of their feelings and behavior so they can move on to resolve deeper issues.” This form of therapy can be a powerful tool to help clients unlock their emotions and process feelings. It is especially beneficial when clients aren’t ready to talk about their feelings or experiences.

Using Art as a Therapeutic Tool

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is integrative in that it involves the mind, body, and spirit. Art therapy is “kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic.” It uses alternative modes of reception and expression, and “circumvents the limitations of language.” When art is used in a therapeutic setting, many benefits have been observed. Art therapy is particularly good at reducing stress. A 2017 research paper in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy reports that the act of creating art lowers the cortisol level in the brain, known as the stress hormone. The act of creating art can give clients a sense of mastery and accomplishment, and that sense of mastery can carry over into other aspects of their lives. Similarly, working on a piece can also help develop emotional resilience—the ability to stick with something when it gets difficult.

According to an article in Psychology Today, art therapy improves symptoms of depression and anxiety and can help clients to deal with physical illness or disability. In addition, art therapy can reawaken memories which can help clients to deal with experiences that they may have repressed. The process of creating art is about “the association between creative choices and the client’s inner life.” One therapist noted that some people aren’t comfortable with talk therapy at first, and that their brains, in effect, shut down. Art therapy is great for these clients because they don’t have to talk right away and the art itself gives them something to talk about. Therapists working in clinical settings have also noted that art therapy can promote relaxation, improve communication, increase mindfulness, improve immune system function, and increase engagement in meditative practices.

Art Therapy as an Aid to Addiction Recovery

Art therapy is an important tool in addiction recovery. According to an article by David Sack, M.D. in Psychology Today, “addiction stifles creativity, but creativity can play an important role in recovery from the disease…Creative approaches such as art therapy…allow people to express difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings without being constrained by words.” Addicts struggle with guilt and shame, which can be “difficult to put into words,” notes Sack, while “Creative approaches can help them process these feelings so they don’t trigger a relapse.”

Sack also notes that art therapy offers clients a “chance for vicarious healing,” in that a client can experience healing through someone else’s artistic expression. Art therapy can be a “stepping stone to eventually talking about pain instead of [using] drugs or alcohol.” Sack also notes that art therapy is fun and increases a client’s sense of playfulness, as well as giving them more control over their environment. In addition, clients can experience the sensation of flow as they become lost in creating, leading them to feel more present and fulfilled.

Art therapy can increase someone’s motivation to stay in treatment and can ease the feelings of loneliness and boredom that people can experience when they are newly sober. Also, creating art gives them a tangible reminder of their time in treatment for their addiction and can provide someone a new passion or connect them to a hobby they used to enjoy before drugs or alcohol took over their lives. As a part of an aftercare plan, people can be encouraged to create art during the time that they would use to drink or use. As an article that was published on www.

crisis states, “Art therapy is all about replacing a negative coping technique with a positive one.”

An effective addiction recovery plan addresses the needs of the whole person, not just the addictive behavior, with a variety of holistic treatment modalities in addition to traditional talk therapy, 12-Step meetings, and medically assisted detox. An important part of recovery is finding healthy coping mechanisms to manage the difficult and painful feelings that are an inevitable part of life without returning to drugs or alcohol. Also, the time that a person used to spend drinking or using must be filled with better activities. Art therapy is a powerful holistic treatment modality in recovery--it reduces stress and muscle tension, boosts immune system function, and increases self-esteem and self-awareness. Creating art is an excellent way to fill the time that used to be spent drinking or using. If you are interested in exploring art therapy and other alternative therapies as part of your recovery journey, call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-5483.


Which Essential Oils Can Aid In The Therapeutic Process?

Holistic science and psychological science are increasingly going hand in hand. Therapy is done in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction through traditional methods and new innovative methods. One of the most important parts of therapy during treatment is the special work a client does one on one with their individual therapist. Among the many group therapies, educational groups, and holistic healing activities, an individual therapist helps guide treatment. Through their work, a client can begin to see the path they are following and process specific issues which come up in other areas of treatment.

However, not everyone is open to traditional talk therapy. Sitting in a room in front of someone who is a relative stranger with a pen and paper can be intimidating. Therapists learn many different tools for helping clients open up and discover more about themselves. The best treatment programs use integrative methods for aiding in the therapeutic process. Essential oils can be used to promote relaxation, enhance energy, open chakras and encourage emotional release. Essential oils used through a diffuser or on the skin can help bring a client fully into the treatment process and help them through therapy.

Orange Oil

Orange zest always brings about feelings of being refreshed and rejuvenated. As an essential oil, orange is helpful in creating an energized and uplifted mood. For therapy, orange oil can be used to work through trauma, put a positive end on an otherwise difficult session, or help lift the symptoms of depression in order to examine it through a different light.

Eucalyptus Oil

There is little doubt that Eucalyptus oil is healing. Many ointments used to treat pain or sickness use eucalyptus oil. This powerful oil helps open the nasal passage and the lungs, inspiring deep breathing for relaxation. Used for purifying and balancing, eucalyptus can be an oil for strength and hope during times of doubt and sickness.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary makes any dish delicious in the kitchen. In therapy, rosemary can be an empowering scent. When fears are being faced with uncertainty and doubt, rosemary oil can help settle nerves and bring clarity to mind.

Lavender Oil

Few scents in the world have the instantaneous relaxing effect that lavender does. Lavender has the ability to heal wounds, relieve stress, and reduce tension. During times of anger, rage, or extreme emotional distress, lavender can create a sense of calm, feeling of being grounded, and a soothing sensation of comfort.

Using essential oils are part of the life skills we teach our clients in our integrative programs. Bringing together holistic healing and clinically proven therapeutic modalities, our programs for treating addiction and dual diagnosis issues are designed for transformative healing in mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for more information at 833-801-5483.

art therapy

7 Art Therapy Ideas For The Winter Holidays

Holidays are known for beautiful decorations, fun crafts, and delicious meals. Incorporate your recovery into holiday cheer with some of these therapeutic activities.

Art Therapy Ideas For The Winter Holidays

  1. Ornaments.
    Decorating ornaments is a great way to express creativity and add to the holiday tradition. You can buy pre-colored ornaments and use adhesive methods like hot glue gun or modge podge to cover the ornament in decoration or collage. Buy clear, glass ornaments and different color paints. For a therapeutic twist, use the clear ornament as a metaphor and notice how each paint leaves a unique color streak when you pour it on the inside. Some colors mix better than others. As you twist the ornament in different ways you can change the way the paint colors the inside of the glass. Like in life, we are affected in different ways by the things which come into our existence. Not everything mixes beautifully, but by learning to navigate life and accept what comes, we can still create something to cherish.
  2. Wreaths.
    A wreath is a beautiful holiday welcoming symbol that can be incredibly creative. How do you want your door or home to be noticed? Start with a styrofoam ring and start to decorate. You can choose whatever theme you want and hang the wreath proudly for everyone to see. For a therapeutic activity, consider the wreath to represent the circle of your life. Choose decorations to show how far you’ve come and where you want to go.
  3. Custom Wrapping Paper.
    Buy sheets of blank colored wrapping paper and sets of sharpies or paints. Rolling the paper out across the floor, use rocks or something heavy to hold down the corners. Draw, splatter, paint, and doodle all over the paper for a pattern that is completely original and unique to you.
  4. Holiday Themed Coloring Books.
    Coloring is a great art therapy tool. Find holiday themed coloring books and spend time coloring in the scenes which speak most to you about the holidays.
  5. Snow Globes.
    Imagine what your perfect winter wonderland would look like. Using any kind of jar, fill the body with water and white glitter. On the inside of the lid, glue decorations to depict your ideal scene. Is it trees? A log cabin? Walking a dog? Find a small toy or decoration. Once it is dry, screw the lid back on and flip it over.
  6. Holiday Music Meditation Activity.
    Holiday music can bring back a lot of happy memories and a lot of difficult memories. Pick a favorite album or song to do a mindful meditation to. Notice what emotions come up as you listen to the song. Which parts are your favorites? What smells does it remind you of or feelings? After the song, journal your reflections.
  7. Ugly Holiday Sweaters.
    The ugly holiday sweater has become a major trend for parties and celebrations. Finding the right ugly sweater can take tons of shopping in thrift stores and shops. Create your own using fabric paints, decorations, patches, and more. From any store, purchase a plain colored crewneck sweatshirt. Using the colors and decorations you’ve chosen, decorate the front of the sweater. At your first sober holiday party, you’ll blow everyone out of the way with your very own ugly sweater. Use the activity as a time to practice remembering not to take yourself, and even the holidays, too seriously.

We know the holidays can be hard. You don’t have to do it alone. If you or a loved one are in need of seeking treatment this holiday season, Enlightened Solutions is here to help. Give yourself the gift that will last the rest of your life. Call us today: 833-801-5483.

When You Start Meditating

Meditation is a helpful spiritual tool for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. People associate all kinds of images and ideas with meditation without knowing just what will happen when they start meditating. Here are some of the things you might have to endure when you start meditating.

You Sleep Better

Meditation before bed is as good as medicine. Slowing down the nervous system and helping the brains settle down, meditation encourages the body to reset after all the chaotic happenings of the day. Focusing on the breath helps the body and brain get that extra bit of oxygen it needs before going to sleep. When oxygen reaches the muscles, it helps them relax. Some people find that their mind races before going to sleep. Meditation helps to quiet the mind. Practicing some mindfulness with meditation will train the brain to let go of the stress from the day and focus only on the present moment, which is thankfully bedtime.

You Notice Your Thoughts More

Mindful meditation asks you to pay attention to the thoughts that come up as you try to settle your mind into not thinking much. You acknowledge the thoughts which arise, notice them, actively try not to label or judge them, then practice just letting them go. In doing so, you start to recognize patterns of what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it. When adverse situations arise which would usually call for a particular reaction, you find yourself stopping to think about that reaction before acting on it. Where you might have once reacted adversely, you find yourself able to pause, notice your thoughts, and take a moment to choose how you would rather react.

You Become More Compassionate

Learning to recognize patterns of your own suffering through noticing your thoughts and observing how they effect you helps you to be more compassionate toward yourself. Compassion is about recognizing that someone experiences suffering of their own, then developing a kind and loving sympathy for them. It is harder to be kind toward ourselves than it is to be kind toward others. When we meditate and foster that self-compassion, our kindness toward others changes. It deepens and widens in our hearts. We feel a whole-heartedness toward the world we never noticed before.

You Want To Meditate When You Can

Connecting to the breath is like connecting to the source of life. Even if you can’t engage in a full twenty minute or hour long meditation during the day, you find yourself searching for every opportunity you can to take a deep breath. Just taking one moment to mindfully take a deep breath in and let a deep breath out is a moment of meditation. Overtime, you’ll notice that when you are in need of receiving, your inhale will lengthen. Likewise, when you are in need of letting go, you will be able to exhale for longer without hardly taking a breath in.

Enlightened Solutions teaches our patients meditation as part of a spiritual skill set for overcoming the power of addiction to drugs and alcohol. We offer multiple levels of care to men and women seeking compassionate change in their lives regarding addiction and dual-diagnosis issues. For more information call 833-801-5483.

Comprehending the Chakras

According to eastern philosophy, the body contains seven centers of spiritual and energetic power. These centers are referred to as chakras. Each chakra has an individual purpose and energy. Chakras can be opened or closed. An open chakra means the energy of that chakra and the holistic body can freely flow. When a chakra is closed, that energy is blocked. Energy that gets blocked can result in physical as well as psychological manifestations.

Ideally, as eastern preventative medicine practitioner would advocate, we should be in the flow all the time. Understanding the meanings associated with each chakra can help us understand where we might be blocked. Various treatment methods like reiki, massage, acupuncture and yoga can open the chakras, releasing their blocked energy. Mindfulness meditation can aid as well.

Why do chakras matter in recovery?

Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, in addition to co-occurring disorders, is a healing process involving the full cooperation of mind, body, and spirit. Working with the chakras helps these three components be in open communication with one another. Recovery is also full of energetic releases found in profound moments of healing and growth. Like conduits or channels for energy, being able to focus on each chakra can support the movement of that energy. Drugs and alcohol are blockers. For a long time, it might have felt as though such harmful substances helped us be ourselves and be in tune with people around us. At the very neurobiological level of our brains, right down to the neurotransmitters, substances were preventing us from doing so. Choosing recovery, we choose to feel free in the natural flow of our own being again.

What are the chakras and where are they?

Each chakra has a color. Improving the strength of each chakra can be done with simple and fun color therapy. If you want to focus on opening a certain chakra, fill your space with that chakra’s color and embrace that particular energy with the intention of what the chakra means.

Root Chakra (red)- at the very base of our spine in the sit bones of our behind

Sacral Chakra (orange)- in our pelvic floor

Solar Plexus Chakra (yellow)- towards the top of our diaphragm

Heart Chakra (green)- in our chests

Throat Chakra (light blue)- in the base of our throats, where our voice box might be found

Third Eye Chakra (dark blue)- raised above the space between our eyebrows

Crown Chakra (purple)- the top of our head, or above our head

Enlightened Solutions knows that the deep connection between mind, body, and soul, is the ultimate source of healing and transformation when recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our program is rooted in 12 step philosophy and holistic healing practices. For more information please call 833-801-5483.