What is Dramatherapy?

‘Dramatherapy has as its main focus the intentional use of healing aspects of drama and theatre as the therapeutic process. It is a method of working and playing that uses action methods to facilitate creativity, imagination, learning, insight and growth.’ (Definition of the BritishAssociation for Dramatherapists)

In practice, Dramatherapy can take a variety of forms:

Awareness,Exploration and Reflection of feelings and relationships - towards the different aspects of oneself and to other people. This form of Dramatherapy offers ways in which a group can reflect on its own dynamics and give feedback, in a way that verbal psychotherapy alone cannot. It offers the possibility of change through increased insight and self-awareness and by providing the opportunity to experiment with different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Creative Expression - enables group members to engage with and feel involved in relationships with other people, to build self-confidence, self-awareness and to have fun.

Use of Dramatic Text, Myths or Ritual - in a way that allows personal experiences and group dynamics to be relived and reviewed in a symbolic, metaphorical, or metaphysical way. The text, story or ritual provides a structure and appropriate distance for exploration and growth to take place.

Learning to Deal with Social Situations - through role play, observation, modelling and experimenting with alternative behaviours and strategies. An example might be the use of role-play in assertiveness training. The group provides a supportive setting for taking risks and for evaluating outcomes.

Central to all of these ways of working is the belief that the creative process of Dramatherapy allows participants a safe place in which to re-examine their existing beliefs, attitudes and feelings (their inner drama), and to try out new, alternative ways of acting (or being) in the world.

Dramatherapy is applied in a variety of settings e.g. mental health, training centres, education, prison and probation, child care and private practice. Dramatherapy open workshops promote creativity, imagination, insight and communication through body-awareness, role-play and dialogue. Dramatherapy has very ancient, historical roots in the healing rituals and dramas of various societies. It forms the meeting point of psychology and drama, based on the ability of drama to heal and reorganize human awareness. In practice it has been greatly influenced by the theory and practice of Group Analytic Psychotherapy, Jungian Archetypal Psychotherapy, Gestalt Therapy and Systems Theory. Dramatherapy can be a valuable tool in the process of self-knowledge and personality integration.

Copyright Demys Kyriacou, M.D.,R.D.Th.(U.K.)