Discovery

What is Drama Therapy?

By May 14, 2015

Today’s psychology focus is on Drama Therapy. You will love this approach if you:

Have difficulty accessing your feelings
Enjoy theater and storytelling as ways of knowing yourself and the world
Desire a more creative and spontaneous approach to “talk therapy”
Value your imagination as a source of wisdom and insight
Wish to challenge yourself creatively
Explore and transcend unhealthy personal patterns of behavior and interpersonal interaction

drama-therapyDrama Therapy utilizes theater processes as therapeutic intervention including role play, theater games, group-dynamic games, mime, puppetry, and a variety of improvisational techniques.

Drama Therapy can be utilized with groups, families, couples, or individual psychotherapy.

This method of treatment grew from the early work of Jacob Levy Moreno, an Austrian-American psychiatrist, originator of psychodrama, and pioneer of group psychotherapy.

In his autobiography, Moreno recalls an interaction with Sigmund Freud in 1912. “I attended one of Freud’s lectures. He had just finished, as the students filed out, he singled me out from the crowd and asked me what I was doing. I responded, ‘Well, Dr. Freud, I start where you leave off. You meet people in the artificial setting of your office. I meet them on the street and in their homes, in their natural surroundings. You analyze their dreams. I give them the courage to dream again. You analyze and tear them apart. I let them act out their conflicting roles, and help them to put the parts back together again.'”

Influenced by experimental approaches to theatre, group dynamics, role play, and psychology in the 1960s, drama therapy emerged as a creative arts therapy in the 1970s.

Today, drama therapy is practiced around the world, and there are presently academic training programs and certification requirements in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Israel, and the United States.

What happens in a Drama Therapy counseling session?

Establish a playful and creative environment to explore interpersonal work

Identify the desire of the patient and utilize a variety of methods based on the issue and relevance

Give your inner voices an outer expression through role play

Improvise through physical movement an unexpressed emotional state like feeling “stuck” by acting this out through “embodiment”

Constructing scenes from the play of your personal story utilizing props like puppets or individuals (if you are in group therapy) to personify an inner conflict

Maintain a safe space for deep catharsis, personal discovery, and insight

Resources for further exploration

North American Drama Therapy Association

“Current Approaches in Drama Therapy” by David Read Johnson and Renee Emunah

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