One of the most unique and intriguing experiential therapies at Promises Austin is the drum circle. Drumming is an ancient musical tradition of Native Americans. At Promises Austin, our voluntary drum circles enable clients and families to express themselves musically and build a sense of unity and cohesion.
Some studies show that drumming helps promote physical healing, boosts the immune system, produces a feeling of well-being and has a calming effect on clients who may be suffering from various traumatic experiences. Research shows that drumming circles have applications as complementary addiction therapy, particularly for repeated relapse and when other forms of treatment have failed.
Drumming as Meditation
At Promises Austin, the drum circle is used to kick off the experiential day at the close of our family program. Clients and families work together to build rhythm and follow the beat of the drum. Afterward participants are asked to look inward and reflect on the experience. Many report a sense of unity and calmness, and come to view the drum circle as an active form of group meditation – bringing the focus and energy of the group into the here and now.
This realization of an alternative method of meditation can be freeing for those who struggle with centering themselves or associate it only with sitting quietly. In this regard, drum circles are a tool as well as something that increases the centering nature of the work that we do here to help clients heal.
A client who is in treatment for 25 days may experience the drum circle 2-3 times; sometimes for brief 20-minute sessions, other times for up to an hour. Weather permitting, this exercise is held in our beautiful hand-crafted outdoor drum circle space, with naturally carved tree stumps as seats. When the weather does not allow for this, drum circles are held within the comfort of our group room, whose walls are decorated with the drums hand-painted with care by Promises Austin alumni.