Most of the clients who come through my facility have tattoos and lots of them. It is a rare day for us to get through a group session without them talking animatedly about either a tattoo that they already have or one they are planning on getting. Therefore, when the topic for group one night was one that would be difficult to stretch to cover all two hours, I thought, why not have everyone design their own recovery tattoo?
Having clients design a tattoo that signifies their recovery allows them to become open and creative in different ways, ways they may not be able to do with their words alone. Another benefit of this activity is that it allows clients to take it as deep or keep it as superficial as they feel comfortable. Some clients will probably make a joke of their tattoo and make it funny, whereas others may use symbolism to highlight their struggle with addiction. Regardless of what they choose to do, it is important to remember that your opinion as a counselor is not important. However they choose to participate in this activity is up to the client. There is nothing more counter productive to therapy than a counselor who judges the client based on what they share in group.
Respect their experience and respect their ideas.