Dance Performance

What are Creative Therapies SERIES

DRAMA THERAPY

Aiko Leung 

WHAT IS DRAMA THERAPY? 

According to The British Association of Drama Therapists (BADth), the role of dramatherapy and dramatherapists are as follows

‘Dramatherapy is a form of Psychotherapy. Drama therapists are both clinicians and artists that draw on their knowledge of theatre and therapy to use as a medium for psychological therapy that may include drama, story-making, music, movement, and art; to work with any issue that has presented itself.’

 

The North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) defines dramatherapy as follows

‘Drama therapy is an embodied practice that is active and experiential. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis. Through drama, the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced.’

 

 

In summary, drama therapy is the approach that assists people from diversified backgrounds to achieve changes through personal expression and exploration in the form of drama. Drama therapy is facilitated under the guidance of licensed drama therapists in varying environments, such as schools, social care centers, health centre, etc.

 

'DRAMATHERAPY' AND 'PSYCHODRAMA' - ARE THEY THE SAME OR DIFFERENT?

Are there any differences between ‘Dramatherapy’ and ‘Psychodrama’? Does one target mainly at achieving psychological wellbeing while the other solely serves as an expressive art? Do the differences lie between the functional goal, the practice or are they merely the same? Some believe ‘Dramatherapy’ is the umbrella term that includes ‘Psychodrama’, while most agree that although the two are not identical, they do overlap in a lot of areas and that they assist and exchange ideas from each other’s discipline. Let’s have a look at the definitions of the two terms and have a think for yourself!

 

The Health and Care Professions Council's Standards of Proficiency for Arts Therapists document (2013) describes Dramatherapy as​ 

 

‘a unique form of psychotherapy in which creativity, play, movement, voice, storytelling, dramatisation, and the performance arts have a central position within the therapeutic relationship.’

 

While Moreno (1953), the founder of psychodrama define psychodrama as

‘the science which explores the truth by dramatic methods. It deals with interpersonal relations and private worlds.’

 

Kedem-Tahar & Kellermann (1996) draw out the main differences in regards to theory, history, aims,
therapeutic factors, practices, target population and therapist functions, which have been summarised
in a comparison table below (please view full table in Kadem-Tahar & Kellerman (1996) original paper)

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DRAMATHERAPY IN PRACTICE

According to NADTA, clients should be assessed before any therapies take place. The assessment should allow therapists to tailor the sessions and therapeutic goals in accordance to the clients’ needs, for instance determining whether to use a group setting or individual setting. BADth states that during therapy, diversified dramatic  techniques could be utilised, including both verbal and non-verbal expression and could be in the form of ‘play’, ‘embodiment’, ‘projection’, ‘role’, ‘story’, ‘metaphor’, ‘empathy’, ‘distancing’. Dramatherapy could promote changes in an active, collaborative, explorative and inclusive setting under the assistance of dramatherapists who are attentive and responsive to clients’ participations through creative means which help clients in obtaining changes desired.

 

References 

HCPC. (2013). Standards of Proficiency. https://www.hcpc-uk.org/standards/standards-of-proficiency/arts-therapists/

Kedem-Tahar, E. & Kellermann, P. F. (1996). Psychodrama and drama therapy. In The Arts in Psychotherapy (Vol. 23, Issue 1, pp. 27–36).


Moreno, J. (1953). Who shall survive? Foundations of sociometry, group psychotherapy and sociodrama. Beacon House.


North American Drama Therapy Association. (n.d.). What is drama therapy. https://www.nadta.org/what-is-drama-therapy.html


The British Association of Dramatherapists. (2020). What is Dramatherapy? https://www.badth.org.uk/dramatherapy/what-is-dramatherapy