May 25, 2024

A Psychologist Explains How Screaming Can Release Trauma

Ever wanted to screech into a cupboard on a particularly bad day? You’re not the only one. There’s actually an official term for it, recognised by psychologists. Enter: screaming therapy.

According to The Guardian, women-only ‘scream groups’ are forming worldwide in an effort to allow space for them to voice their emotions in a society where a lot of the time, female rage is often disapproved of.

And on 2022’s Netflix remake of Heartbreak High, we see the teenage characters try scream therapy as they navigate their own troubles. “You should try scream therapy. Scream therapy! You scream your frustrations to the moon,” says Quinni, played by Chloe Hayden, in the opening episode of the show.

What is screaming therapy?

It sounds pretty restorative, perhaps a little hippie to some – but screaming therapy, or ‘primal therapy’, is actually a technique that has been used in mental health treatment since the 1960s.

“There is now a lot of evidence to support primal or scream therapy as intrinsic emotional processing,” psychotherapist, clinical hypnotherapist and mindset coach Ella McCrystal tells GLAMOUR. “Through re-experiencing past painful experiences, we can access and release trauma. ”

“Screaming your heart out is actually part of primal therapy, developed by Dr. Arthur Janov in the 1960s. Dr. Janov speculated that screaming — and other physical outlets like crying — could help release repressed childhood trauma. He called this trauma ‘primal pain,’ and believed that screaming could help people recover from it. ”

How to try screaming therapy yourself

Fancy a go at scream therapy? Psychologist Barbara Santini advises: “To start, stand with your feet far apart and hands held out in front. After taking the warrior pose, scream as loud as possible. Scream therapy works by allowing you to connect with negative emotions, feel them and then scream them out. Your scream activates your sympathetic nervous system, calming your mind and body. ”

She does warn, however: “If you want to try screaming therapy, remember it does not provide a permanent solution to your mental health issues. ”

Ella agrees. “Screaming can be helpful in conjunction with other mental health tools, mainly because of its cathartic effects. . . and especially powerful if you tend to be tightly wound, stuff down your emotions, and suppress your true self,” she says.

“But importantly, screaming alone won’t be enough! The key is to use screaming as a first step, following it up with introspection and psychotherapeutic tools or action – exploring what underlies the pain and overwhelm and identifying promising solutions to try. ”

Is screaming the best way to deal with our troubles?

While it may be beneficial in the moment, as Barbara and Ella have said – screaming therapy most likely won’t be the answer to your problems.

Motivational speaker Penny Mallory, author of 365 Ways to Develop Mental Toughness, makes a point. “I’ve read more and more lately about the popularity of ‘scream groups’, as a way of releasing the frustration and anger against any number of aspects of a person’s life, whether that be relationship problems, frustrations about wider world situations, a job or another issue,” she tells GLAMOUR.

“But I would suggest that a better way to support mental resilience is not to go to a scream therapy group but to work on taking steps to improve your mental toughness yourself. Some of the quietest, gentlest people are mentally tough. Mental toughness is being able to manage the stress and chaos and pressure of the ‘permacrisis’ that we are living through. The better we can manage this, the better we can enjoy life and remain optimistic. For the mentally tough, a challenge or a setback can be managed by taking a new perspective. ”

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