Drama therapy (written dramatherapy in the UK) is the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health. Dramatherapy is used in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, mental health centers, prisons, and businesses. Drama therapy, as a form of 'expressive therapy' (also known as creative arts therapies'), exists in many forms and can be applicable to individuals, couples, families, and various groups.
History of drama therapy
The modern use of dramatic process and theatre as a therapeutic intervention began with Jacob L. Moreno's development of Psychodrama. The field has expanded to allow many forms of theatrical interventions as therapy including role-play, theatre games, group-dynamic games, mime, puppetry, and other improvisational techniques. Often, "drama therapy" is utilized to help a client:
- Solve a problem
- Achieve a catharsis
- 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 Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Israel and the United States.
Phil Jones has written in his book Drama as Therapy, Theatre as Living that there are nine core processes at the heart of drama therapy. 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 and Canada, the governing body is the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA), which establishes guidelines for the RDT (Registered Drama Therapist) credential and which provides accreditation for MA level programs and guidelines for alternative track training. In North America, Registered Drama Therapists hold a master's degree from one of four institutions accredited by the National Association for Drama Therapy: Lesley University, New York University, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Concordia University. Persons who hold a master's 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, accredited by the British Association of Dramatherapists, and recognized by the Department of Health. These courses are offered at Roehampton University, University of Derby, Central School of Speech and Drama, Anglia Ruskin University, and The School of Dramatherapy at the Iron Mill Institute.
Many of these universities suggest specific subjects to complete at degree level if you wish to pursue on to a masters programme in Drama Therapy. Some of these subjects are the following, Drama, Psychology or another such relevant profession.
- Art therapy
- Playback Theatre
- Theater of the Oppressed
- Theatre pedagogy
- Loretta Gallo-Lopez, Lawrence C. C. Rubin -Play-Based Interventions for Children and Adolescents on the ... 2012- Page 100 "An overview of drama therapy is provided next, along with support for the use of drama therapy with children with ASd."
- Jeffrey A. Kottler, PH., David S. Shepard Introduction to Counseling: Voices from the Field - 2010 Page 179 "Frequently the use of expressive therapy is not theoretically isolated but occurs as an adjunct to other theoretical modalities."
- Malchiodi, Cathy A. (2003), Expressive Therapies , New York: Guilford, ISBN 1-59385-379-3
- NHS. (2013). entry requirements and training for Dramatherapy. Available: http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/explore-by-career/allied-health-professions/careers-in-the-allied-health-professions/arts-therapists/dramatherapist/entry-and-training/.
Johnson, D.R. & Emunah, R. (2009). Current approaches in drama therapy. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas
- North American Drama Therapy Association (USA & Canada)
- British Association of Dramatherapists (UK)
- Societa' Professionale Italiana Drammaterapia (IT)
- The German Association of Dramatherapy (DE)
- The South African Association of Dramatherapists (ZA)
- The Czech Association of Dramatherapy (CZ)
- Dramatherapy in Greece and Cyprus (GR)