Creativity in Action…

Lisa Wolters, MSW, has created the term cortex-ercise to describe how she uses the JICT images with drug addicts to strengthen their atrophied pre-frontal cortex.
In Lisa’s words…..

I use the JICT images during intensive outpatient group therapy for people who have been diagnosed with substance use disorders. I have them select a card face down from a pile without them seeing the picture beforehand. I give them a moment to study the card, giving notice to any characteristics, patterns, relationships that speak to them within the image. I then present a question that asks them to relate what they perceive on the image to their life – past, present, current, or any combination. I give another few minutes for silent reflection and then have each person share their image with the rest of the group and discuss how the image relates to them.

Asking substance use disorder clients to use these images to create a metaphor for their own experience accomplishes several things:

  1. The act of higher-order abstract thinking requires utilization of the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that for many clients with chemical dependence has become atrophied due to the rewiring of their limbic system to maintain their dependency. To utilize this part of the brain is to strengthen, and to strengthen is to learn new skills that will interrupt the addiction and relapse cycle.
  2. Clients are able to use visualization cues to help process their experience. This allows them to have a tool in addition to verbal and written language that may facilitate the process of recovery.
  3. Clients are able to use this activity to stimulate dialogue and the building of interpersonal relationships in a therapeutic environment. The mutual sharing of images and experiences promotes the learning of empathy as clients challenge themselves to see other’s perceptions in their own images and vice versa.

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