Drama Therapy

Students and Alumni

Students and Alumni of the Drama Therapy Program

The drama therapy program encourages embodied self-inquiry which gave me the foundation and self-understanding to offer quality clinical care to others. The combination of social justice work, psychological theory, and creativity provided me with the tools to approach my work in a rich, holistic way. - Allyson Hurlburt, MA (2011)

Current Students

Alethia Olmedo-Perlasca holds a bachelors degree in Human Communication from the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, and became a certified psychotherapist at the Centro Ericksoniano de Mexico, working with teenagers, young adults and families in Mexico City. She is currently an MFT trainee at the Living Arts Counseling Center.

Allison Guyton received her BA in English with an emphasis in gender studies and a minor in theatre from UC Berkeley. She has done volunteer work with Community United Against Violence, the California AIDS Hotline, Recovery Survival Network, and Brava Theatre. She completed her practicum at the East Bay Community Recovery Project, working with women in residential treatment for co-occurring disorders, and hopes to continue working with this population.

Ilya Parizhsky received his BA in Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has facilitated workshops in theatrical clowning, improvisational theater, and peer-to-peer counseling. At CIIS, Ilya did a pre-practicum in a middle school with groups of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders. He is now an MFT Trainee at the Living Arts Counseling Center, where he leads a men's group and works with adults and children using Drama Therapy.

Latille "Tia" Phillips received a BFA in theatre from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. She spent three years as tour-actor-director with two traveling children's theatre companies. Phillips also spent three years living in Miyagi, Japan as a theatre director, creative dramatics teacher, and assistant ESL teacher. Tia was an MFT trainee in two homeless shelters in San Francisco and is now preparing a Self-Revelatory Performance as her capstone project.

Alumni Profiles

Aileen B. Cho (MA '12) received her BA in theatre (with a minor in psychology) from UC San Diego. She completed practicum at Community Health for Asian Americans, the Oakland High School, Edna Brewer Middle School, and the New Dawn Eating Disorders Recovery Program. Aileen is an MFT Intern in private practice affiliated with the Korean American Psychological Association in Los Angeles, and as a Primary Therapist and Drama Therapist at the Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment in Long Beach. She was in the Living Arts Counseling Center's Playback Theatre Ensemble while at CIIS, and she is pursuing further training through the Developmental Transformations (DvT) Institute.

Daniel Smith (MA '12) works as an MFT Intern at The Sage Project in San Francisco, an organization which offers services to adults and youth who have been affected by sexual exploitation, trauma, and abuse. He also teaches, directs and performs improv with Leela, long-form improvisational theatre company and training center where people from all walks of life come together to connect, play, and express their authentic selves while creating fresh new works of art.

Roni Alperin (MA '10) works as an MFT Intern at the Living Arts Counseling Center in Oakland, where he offers psychotherapy and drama therapy for individuals, couples, and groups. Since 2001, he has used drama to promote healing with diverse populations in both Israel and the United States. He is passionate about creating self-revelatory theatre pieces with clients as a therapeutic act and plans to open a drama therapy center in Tel Aviv.

Claudia Cuentas (MA '10) studied music at the National Music Conservatory in Peru, and movement and expressive arts therapy at the Tamalpa Institute, in Kentfield, CA, prior to coming to CIIS. Claudia uses music, movement and Drama Therapy to support reconciliation between self, families and communities. She has a strong indigenous practice of healing and transformation from around the Americas which she uses in her daily and professional practice. Claudia has practiced individual, family, couples, and group therapy in schools, nonprofit organizations, and women's shelters using theater, movement, music, and ritual as primary resources in her drama therapy and healing practices. She teaches Planetary Dances and presents Drama Therapy/Expressive Arts therapy workshops at national and international events.

Toni-Joan (TJ) Alton (MA '09) left her beloved hometown in South Africa to study drama therapy at CIIS. She had completed a degree in psychology and drama, and a postgraduate degree in education and drama, and was excited to combine her studies into one modality. She is a program director at the local facility where she completed her practicum, working with adolescents and adults who have substance abuse issues, and is now ready to apply for her MFT license.

Nazbah Tom (MA '07), an MFT Intern, uses drama therapy techniques with substance-abuse populations in outpatient treatment who are presenting with trauma, substance abuse, and effects of historical trauma. She is program director in an HIV services department called Circle of Healing. She is also exploring the integration of drama therapy, Western traditional psychotherapy, indigenous knowledge and cultural practices, and somatics in working with urban Native American/First Nations individuals, families, and groups.

Saun-Toy Trotter (MA '00), MFT, is a therapist and clinical supervisor at Youth Uprising/Castlemont Clinic within the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland. She is also a director and solo performance artist, specializing in self-revelatory pieces. Trotter recently completed a yoga teacher training to integrate drama therapy and somatic practices.

Robert Sarison (MA '98), RDT, MFT, is manager of the Alzheimer's Residential Care Program at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where he supervises drama therapists and expressive arts therapists. He is also on the faculty of the Institute for Developmental Transformations West. Sarison has a private practice with families, couples, and individuals.

Susana Pendzik (MA '87), PhD, RDT is a senior drama therapist in private practice, a supervisor accredited by the Israeli Association of Creative and Expressive Therapies, and a founder and honorary member of the Swiss Drama Therapy Association. She teaches in Israel and Switzerland, does extensive international work, and is collaborating in the creation of an International Institute of Applied and Therapeutic Theatre. She is a poet, theatre director, and researcher. She developed a drama therapy-based assessment method (the 6-Key Model), and is the author of numerous articles on drama therapy, a book for using action techniques with abused women, and coeditor of Assessment in Drama Therapy.