Implemented at the Can Parellada Dianova facility in Spain, these gender-oriented therapeutic workshops are intended to support people’s empowerment and emotional development
The PsychoFlamenco workshops were created to support therapeutic work with persons with substance use disorders, women who are suffering or have suffered gender-based violence and men who inflict it. Those of us who work in the field of addictions know that these issues intersect and feed off each other.
PsychoFlamenco workshops incorporate the benefits of group therapy, physical exercise, relaxation, music, dance and emotional expression. Using the “flamenco liberation” methodology, workshops focus on managing emotions and soft skills training through flamenco dance and music. They thus offer a space for playful, therapeutic work with emotions, the body and the group from a gender-based perspective.
The workshops also encourage participants to interact with a flamenco touch. They are educational, analytical and critical of patriarchy, making them ideal for working on socio-affective issues such as self-esteem, self-concept, our relationships with our own bodies, sensuality and analyzing gender myths and stereotypes. The work participants do in the workshop focuses on the gender-based approach, guidance, raising awareness, analysis, critiquing the gender roles assigned by the patriarchy and empowering participants. The workshops offer all this through an activity that can provide the group with a shared passion that members can use to socialize outside the workshop.
The workshops offer a space for interaction, respect and acceptance in a format similar to group therapy, as well as artistic tools for managing and expressing emotions and developing soft skills. Those skills are useful for managing the clichés, issues and fears we all face based on our gender roles and the idea of “romantic love” that has been ingrained in us.
As artistic expressions, both music and dance connect a person’s inner and outer worlds, making it possible to represent reality and express thoughts, feelings and experiences. Music and dance offer a space and tools to express through body and art what we sometimes don’t know how to say with words or that has not had another space to emerge. These expressions lead us to sublimate in a healthy, constructive and creative way.
Why is it suitable for persons with substance use disorders?
Women who seek treatment for addictions are more at risk than other women of being abused. Addictions are often associated with psychological deficits such as low self-esteem, assertiveness problems, a poor social support environment or lack of affection.
We know that being a woman and an addict is a double risk factor for domestic violence, and that abuse predisposes victims to addiction. We can thus view drug addiction and body image disorders as forms of self-destruction or a dysfunctional strategy for dealing with a situation.
There is a relationship between substance addiction and GBV. Women either try to neutralize their reactions to trauma by numbing their senses with drugs. They are also more likely to have a substance use lifestyle that puts them at greater risk of being abused.
Interventions must be adaptable to various profiles, as there is no single profile of an abused woman or an abusive man. There are, however, certain common traits, like low self-esteem and internalizing gender stereotypes and myths of romantic love. We see traits typical of drug addicts in both victims and perpetrators, such as low self-esteem, some degree of social isolation, dependency on a partner, blame, feelings of helplessness, indecision and/or use of extreme passive or aggressive communication patterns.
This makes intervention for both issues not only possible but necessary, for both men and women, as the two factors feed off each other.
Thus, interventions that train in people and soft skills like self-concept, self-esteem, assertively expressing our feelings and wishes, listening, empathy, negotiating, personal boundaries, teamwork and cooperation, relaxation techniques, etc. are important.
The general objective of the intervention is for PsychoFlamenco workshops to help empower participants and raise awareness of the position society puts us in based on gender socialization. The workshops provide a guided and respectful space for participants to express emotions and develop the socio-affective skills they need to break the cycle of violence and the stereotypes that sustain sexism.
The workshop uses a gender-based approach, which is necessary to frame sexist violence and to analyze and question the gender myths and stereotypes that sustain it and spread it. This approach is also essential so participants can approach flamenco from a critical perspective and choose suitable materials.
Group work is the ideal way to combine these aspects with individual psychotherapy. The group provides a confidential space of mutual respect, guided by a professional, where women who have endured violent situations can reflect on their experiences, benefit from socio-affective skills training and find social support.
The PsychoFlamenco workshops are an appropriate space for group therapy as they also provide benefits that the group itself does not offer. Those benefits are related to music and movement, exercise, socio-affective skills training with a gender-based approach, and especially to creating a more relaxed space than therapy for achieving goals.
Who created the PsychoFlamenco workshops?
Roser Vicente Marín is a trained Health Psychologist with a degree from the University of Barcelona. She holds a Master’s degree in Addiction studies and a Postgraduate degree in domestic violence evaluation and intervention from UofB. Roser has been a psychotherapist in several substance abuse treatment centres in Barcelona and trained in flamenco dance in Barcelona and Granada.