Dramatherapy is the intentional and systematic use of drama and theatre processes to achieve healthy psychological growth and change. Action methods, spontaneous and dramatic play, drama games, mime, movement, voice, role-play, scripts, masks, myths, stories, metaphor and symbolism are used to enable clients to express, experience and explore relevant issues.
Dramatherapy often involves working ‘within the metaphor', which means that difficult topics or emotions can be explored through the frame of, for example, a story, a poem, a play or a role, creating a safe distance between clients and their troubles.
Dramatherapy's creative flexibility makes it an appropriate intervention for children, adolescents and the elderly. Dramatherapy offers a variety of working methods that are applicable to a wide variety of clients. Consequently, dramatherapists work in a diverse range of settings including mental health, education, services for people with intellectual and/or sensory disability, community settings, social and prison services, as well as in private practice.
The role of the dramatherapist is to develop a programme with appropriate aims, objectives and structures to meet the needs and abilities of the specific client group. A dramatic talent is not necessary for participation.
The emphasis is on the experience of the group or individual, not on performance.
A dramatherapy session takes place within clear boundaries that protect the client(s). It usually lasts between 40 and 90 minutes and contains five phases:
Therapeutic outcomes vary according to the setting, the dramatherapist’s specific approach, and, above all, the client’s presenting issues. Treatment goals can be summarised as follows:
Dramatherapists are trained to Master’s level and are accredited by iacat. They carry out assessments, design and implement therapy programs and evaluate outcomes with reference to the most up to date research base. Therapists undertake continuing professional development and regular clinical supervision.