Drama therapy is the intentional and systematic use of drama and theatre processes and products to achieve the psychotherapeutic goals of symptom relief, emotional, cognitive and physical integration and personal growth. Drama therapy incorporates diverse theoretical approaches, action-orientated and experiential in practice, using one or more of the following processes: dramatic play; mime; puppetry; mask work; role play; enactment; ritual; improvisation; storytelling; theatre-making; theatre production; drama games and text. These approaches facilitate the client’s ability to: tell his/her story; solve problems; set goals; gain insight into personal behaviours; practice new behaviours; express feelings appropriately; achieve catharsis; extend the depth and breadth of inner experience; improve interpersonal skills and relationships; strengthen the ability to perform personal, social and professional life roles while increasing flexibility between these roles.
Drama therapy is practiced with individuals and groups. The structure and distance offered by dramatic text, dramatic play, ritual or traditional stories allows personal experiences to be reviewed in a symbolic, personal and metaphorical way. Role play, observation and experimenting with alternative behaviours and strategies can help to reconstruct difficult group situations and explore alternative group systems, contracts, goals and roles. The process of creating drama has therapeutic value, providing insights and healing that verbal psychotherapy alone may not achieve.
In Master’s level drama therapy training, a student may be trained in or introduced to the following approaches: