Can Your Favorite Superhero Help You Get Clean? (Yes!)

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Who’s your favorite superhero? Do you wish you could fly like Superman? Heal like Wolverine? Kick butt like Wonder Woman? Drive the Batmobile?

It turns out, our fascination with superheroes can help us with our recovery. Interestingly enough, our admiration for these characters – and our desire to be like them – helps us relate to our own struggles.

Dr. Janina Scarlet, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, discovered this connection while working with active duty service members, as well as civilians.She began by incorporating relatable examples from “geek culture” within therapy sessions. The Marines she worked with particularly loved Batman and Superman. Scarlet quickly noted how well this was received, so she began incorporating additional fictional characters into therapy.

She labeled this blend of geek culture and research-based methods – including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy – as Superhero Therapy.

Scarlet defines this method as: “…incorporating characters from geek culture, including Superheroes and other characters from comic books, as well as characters from fantasy, science fiction, and video games into evidence-based therapy.”

Why Superhero Therapy Works

The stories we see and hear often have a powerful impact. Research has shown that when we connect with a character and relate to their struggles, we can benefit in several ways:

  • We feel less alone.
  • Their story can help us heal.
  • Their experiences can teach us empathy.
  • We can better cope with difficult life transitions.
  • We’re inspired to make a difference.

It can be hard to identify your thoughts and emotions as you work through recovery. By identifying with a particular fictional character, you can use that relationship to process your own feelings and experiences and make change in your own life.

As Scarlet notes, “Talking about fictional characters’ emotional experiences might seem safer than talking about our own, so with my patients, that is where we often start, later drawing parallels to their own feelings and subsequently switching over to focusing on those. The idea behind Superhero Therapy is to help the client to become the very best version of themselves (their own kind of a Superhero) by drawing inspiration from their favorite fandom.”

As you work through the issues of chemical dependency and recovery, you’re essentially becoming the superhero you need to be – to live the life of sobriety you desire. Who knows what super powers lie within you, waiting to be unleashed?

How Can You Learn More?

Scarlet’s methods have continued to grow since their introduction. Her Superhero Therapy self-help book will soon be available. It’s a graphic novel that shares the story of six heroes who each struggle with a type of mental health difficulty – one of them is substance abuse.

You can discover more about Superhero Therapy on Dr. Scarlet’s website.

Image Source: iStock

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