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"Scream Therapy" Can Make You Feel Happier and Calmer

Being a writer, I have explored and am still exploring many mental health concepts and solutions for better wellbeing. In today's times, where we are fast-moving and stressed, scream therapy has caught my attention because of its unique approach and ability to provide an unconventional yet potentially cathartic release of stress and tension. That’s when I thought to dig deeper and share the potential of scream therapy, aka primal therapy, out there.

Scream therapy might be a new term for many, but the idea of catharsis is well known to the world, and scream therapy is no different from it. It is all about “letting go of the steam.” According to research, if we continue to ignore our emotions, they can eventually intensify and become stronger. This may affect our relationships, physical health, and general well-being. It was also reported in a 2019 study that hiding emotions is a barrier to good physical health.

In a 2008 interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, Oprah Winfrey said, "I was screaming for my mother, I was screaming for my father, I was screaming for all of the things that had ever happened to me that I had never been able to express. And it was the most cathartic experience of my life."

So, it's clear that managing our emotions is a good thing. Just like Winfrey, releasing yourself from past traumas can be soothing for all. To explore this further, let's talk about “scream therapy”.

What is scream therapy?

Scream therapy, also known as primal therapy, occurs when a therapist helps a patient remember and relive a traumatic childhood experience. The patient then expresses their emotions through screaming, crying, or other physical outbursts. It opens a door to confronting emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear.

Origins of scream therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov first developed scream therapy in the 1970s in his book. Soon after that, his books started to revolutionize psychotherapy and became the talk of the town for every psychiatrist, researcher, and medical expert of that time. His theory was based on the idea that childhood trauma is often the root of many mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In his interview, when asked about his approach to accessing these emotions, he explained that patients become more open as they go through therapy. They gain more access to their feeling centres in the brain, which is crucial for healing. Dr. Arthur Janov believes that scream therapy is much more effective than any cognitive therapy. However, it is important to note that this is based on his personal opinions rather than on research evidence. According to his opinions, primal therapy goes deep into the emotional centres of the brain, while cognitive therapy remains in the left frontal area, focusing on ideas. Emotional release, not just cognitive ideas, is essential for wellbeing.

How does scream therapy work?

Scream therapy is a way to release all the negative emotions that you've been holding inside.

The process can be intense, but in the end, it offers closure to a long-standing emotional stack. According to Dr. Ryan C. Warner, Ph.D., psychologist and founder of RC Warner Consulting, this step-by-step breakdown should make it easier for you to comprehend:

Step 1: Regression

In this stage, you will be reminded of the difficult phases of your life with the help of your therapist. It’s important to allow yourself to feel the exact emotions without fearing or feeling embarrassed about any of them.

Step 2: Release

Next comes the reaction. Allow yourself to express your feelings. Release them in physical form, which can be talking, crying, screaming, or shouting without any judgment. It is important to have a safe and supportive environment around you.

Step 3: Integration

The third step is placing the pieces of your present life together. Understand and accept the effect that trauma causes on yourself. Acceptance helps you integrate your emotions and experiences and helps you identify the real you.

Step 4: Resolution

In the final step, you discuss the actionable steps to create an impact in your present life. People often notice a change in dealing with difficult phases after this final stage. They feel better and stronger than ever.

Benefits of scream therapy: Is it helpful for you?

Screaming is a primal urge that can release repressed childhood trauma and give people a sense of calmness. The scientific evidence about its effects is rather anecdotal; however, Dr. Warner explains how it has been beneficial in specific ways:

1. Emotional relief

Some people who have attempted scream therapy report feeling at peace after expressing their feelings. It's as though they have finally tackled decades-old issues that have consumed them.

2. Addressing childhood trauma

If someone has had a challenging childhood, scream therapy can help them reclaim their happiness. This can be especially helpful if they have never felt comfortable discussing their experiences or coping with attached emotions.

3. Coping with recent challenges

Scream therapy may also help you process recent challenging events, such as a difficult divorce or the sudden death of a loved one. It can help you deal with your emotions and move forward.

Limitations of scream therapy

Scream therapy can evoke assertive emotions, but this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Releasing these emotions is part of the healing process, and it only removes the extra baggage of emotions. However, its effectiveness can be varied based on a person’s emotional capabilities, as re-experiencing painful memories or traumas can be triggering for some people. That said, here are some other reasons Dr. Warner explains why people often feel confused about it:

1. Limited scientific evidence and a lack of regulation

There is limited scientific evidence to support the claims made about its effectiveness. Due to this, there is no regulation around scream therapy. Therapists may use a variety of different techniques, some of which may be ineffective.

2. Group setting and the potential of harm.

Scream therapy is often conducted in a group setting, which can be overwhelming for some people. Some of the techniques used in scream therapy can be emotionally and physically demanding, and there is a risk of re-traumatization.

3. Chances of relapse

Some mental health professionals believe that scream therapy can be harmful because it can trigger some people's flashbacks, panic attacks, and other negative reactions.

How can you try scream therapy?

Knowing all about scream therapy might tempt you to start your healing journey but doing it unsupervised is not a good idea. Dr. Warner recommends consulting your doctor and discussing things accordingly.

However, once you decide to practice it, here are a few things to look out for:

  • Warm up your vocal cords by humming, singing, or doing other vocal exercises.

  • Start by practicing it for a short period of time.

  • Take breaks when needed to avoid getting overwhelmed.

  • Don’t worry about how you sound or what your therapist might think about you.

Scream therapy is beneficial for managing your emotions. Just remember, it can be different for everyone. Give yourself time to heal.


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