The dramatic mode liberates clients from real-life constraints and from imbedded patterns, affording them a means of expanding their behavioral and role repertoires.
-Renée Emunah, chapter in Beyond Talk Therapy
Drama therapy is the systematic and intentional use of drama and theater processes to promote emotional growth and psychological integration. The field of drama therapy, which was founded in 1979, has a solid theoretical foundation. Many models and methods (including Emunah's Integrative Five Phase Model of Drama Therapy, Johnson's Developmental Transformations, and Landy's Role Method) are studied. Clinical issues (such as distinguishing compulsive and constructive reenactment, therapeutic direction of improvisational enactment, creative responses to resistance, and use and misuse of psychodramatic tools) are examined from multiple perspectives. We use role-play and enactment in training-making learning more engaging, embodied, and interactive! We believe that learning can and should be relevant, exciting, and transformative.
Sources, Processes, and Modalities in Drama Therapy
The primary sources of drama therapy include dramatic play, theater, role play, psychodrama, and dramatic ritual. Drama therapy, as one of the creative arts therapies, facilitates artistic expression-engendering clarity, mastery, meaning, and hope. In drama therapy, we choose from a wide array of adapted dramatic processes. Storytelling, improvisation, self-revelatory performance, life review, Playback Theater, physical theater, creative drama, puppetry, scripted pieces, and more are tailored to the needs of a specific group or individual. Drama also includes the other arts; in drama therapy, music, dance/movement, art, poetry, and photography/video are selectively incorporated to enhance the therapeutic and/or aesthetic nature of the work.
The rapidly expanding field of drama therapy offers a huge range of work opportunities, and we encourage students to pursue their individual passions. The unique combination of a solid background in counseling psychology and specialized training in drama therapy, along with considerable experience in leading groups (a skill that community mental health facilities highly value) comprise some of the factors that have led our graduates to obtain satisfying jobs readily. Alumni work in private practice, psychiatric settings, battered women shelters, schools, and substance-abuse treatment programs; they work with children, at-risk adolescents, seniors, veterans, and polarized groups in the community. Some use action methods and role-play in corporate consulting, diversity training, and small- and large-scale community projects. Others are engaged in research, teaching, publication, performance, and doctoral or postdoctoral pursuits.