Drama therapy
Drama Therapy is the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health. Dramatherapy is used in a wide variety of settings, including hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

s, schools, mental health centers, prisons, and businesses. Drama Therapy, as a form of Expressive Arts Therapy, (also known as Expressive Therapy), exists in many forms and can be applicable to individuals, couples, families, and various groups.

History of Dramatherapy

The modern use of dramatic process and theatre as a therapeutic intervention began with Psychodrama
Psychodrama is a method of psychotherapy in which clients utilize spontaneous dramatization, role playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives. Developed by Jacob L. Moreno, M.D. psychodrama includes elements of theater, often conducted on a stage where...

. The field has expanded to allow many forms of theatrical interventions as therapy including role-play, theatre games, group-dynamic game
Group-dynamic game
Group-dynamic games are experiential education exercises which help people to learn about themselves, interpersonal relationships, and how groups function from a group dynamics or social psychological point of view....

s, mime
Mime artist
A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer was referred to as a mummer...

, puppetry
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance which involves the manipulation of puppets. It is very ancient, and is believed to have originated 30,000 years BC. Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects...

, and other improvisational techniques
Improvisational theatre
Improvisational theatre takes many forms. It is best known as improv or impro, which is often comedic, and sometimes poignant or dramatic. In this popular, often topical art form improvisational actors/improvisers use improvisational acting techniques to perform spontaneously...

. Often, "Drama Therapy" is utilized to help a client:
  • Solve a problem
  • Achieve a catharsis
    Catharsis or katharsis is a Greek word meaning "cleansing" or "purging". It is derived from the verb καθαίρειν, kathairein, "to purify, purge," and it is related to the adjective καθαρός, katharos, "pure or clean."-Dramatic uses:...

  • Delve into truths about self
  • Understand the meaning of personally resonant images
  • Explore and transcend unhealthy personal patterns of behavior and interpersonal interaction

The theoretical foundation of "Drama Therapy" lies in drama, theater, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, play, and interactive and creative processes.

In his book, "Drama as Therapy: Theory, practice and research," Phil Jones describes the emergence of the intentional use of drama as therapy as three-fold. First a long history of drama as a healing force with ancient roots in the healing rituals and dramas of various societies. The connection between drama and the psychological healing of society, though not of the individual, was first formally acknowledged by Aristotle, who was the originator of the term 'catharsis'. Secondly, in the early twentieth century, hospital theatre and the work of Moreno, Evreinov, and Iljine, marked a new attitude towards the relationship between therapy and theatre that provided a foundation for the emergence of drama therapy later in the century. Finally, influenced by experimental approaches to theatre, group dynamics, role playing 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 in Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and the United States.

Core Procesess

Phil Jones has written in his book "Drama as Therapy, Theatre as Living" that there are 9 core processes at the heart of dramatherapy. These include projective identification and dramatic distancing. Projective identification is the process whereby a person feels the feelings that the other is unable to access themselves. Dramatic distancing refers to the way that emotional and psychological problems can be accessed easier through metaphor. The client has a distanced relationship through metaphor to these problems that makes them easier to tolerate.

Becoming a Drama Therapist

In the US, the governing body is the National Association for Drama Therapy (NADT), which establishes guidelines for the RDT (Registered Drama Therapist) accreditation.

In North America, Registered Drama Therapists hold a Masters degree from one of three institutions accredited by the National Association for Drama Therapy: New York University, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Concordia University. Persons who hold a Masters degree in a related field can be registered as a Drama Therapist by pursuing what is known as Alternate Route Training, which consists of graduate coursework and internships performed under the supervision of a board-certified trainer.

In the UK, the governing body is the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth).

There are currently five post-graduate training courses in Dramatherapy in the UK that lead to a qualification approved by the Health Professions Council
Health Professions Council
The Health Professions Council is a statutory regulator of 210,000 health professionals from 15 professions in the United Kingdom. It was set up in 2003 under the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002, to replace the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine ....

, accredited by the British Association of Dramatherapists, and recognized by the Department of Health. These courses are offered at Roehampton University
Roehampton University
The University of Roehampton is a campus university in the United Kingdom, situated on three major sites in Roehampton, south-west London.-History:...

, University of Derby
University of Derby
The University of Derby is a university in the city of Derby, England. The main site is on Kedleston Road, Allestree in the north-west of Derby close to the A38 opposite Markeaton Park...

, Sesame
Central School of Speech and Drama
The Central School of Speech and Drama was founded in London in 1906 by Elsie Fogerty to offer a new form of training in speech and drama for young actors and other students...

, Anglia Ruskin University
Anglia Ruskin University
Anglia Ruskin University is one of the largest universities in Eastern England, United Kingdom, with a total student population of around 30,000.-History:...

, and The School of Dramatherapy at the The Iron Mill Institute.

See also

  • Art therapy
    Art therapy
    Because of its dual origins in art and psychotherapy, art therapy definitions vary. They commonly either lean more toward the ART art-making process as therapeutic in and of itself, "art as therapy," or focus on the psychotherapeutic transference process between the therapist and the client who...

  • Theraplay
    Theraplay is a therapeutic approach that uses elements of play therapy with the intention of helping parents and children build better attachment relationships through attachment-based play. It was developed in 1967 in Chicago by Ann M...

  • Psychology
    Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

  • Psychodrama
    Psychodrama is a method of psychotherapy in which clients utilize spontaneous dramatization, role playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives. Developed by Jacob L. Moreno, M.D. psychodrama includes elements of theater, often conducted on a stage where...

  • Theater of the Oppressed
  • Playback Theatre
    Playback Theatre
    Playback Theatre is an original form of improvisational theatre in which audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot.-History:The first Playback Theatre company was founded in 1975 by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas...

Governing Bodies

Other Drama Therapy-Related Websites

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