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)

Of 81 current and recent students:

42% came from out of State

14% are international students

44% came from California

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PDT Graduate Student: Sara Kliger Graduate Student Sara Kliger Talks About the Drama Therapy Program at CIIS Play Video
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Student Profiles

Sara Kliger (2014)

Sara Kliger (2014) received her BA in Theatre from Skidmore College and has performed in New York City and arcoss Europe as a singer and an actor. By using drama, music, and movement as a therapeutic outlet, she has most recently gained experience in working with teens and young adults who have developmental delays such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is proud to be on the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) student committee where she represents CIIS. She will be starting her practicum at the Community Youth Center of San Francisco in the Fall of 2015.

Diana Chu (2014)

Diana Chu (2014) was born in Hong Kong and received her BA in Psychology and Drama from University of Toronto, Canada. She felt the healing power of theater at an early age, but was not able to name it. She was particularly thankful to Google, as the quick search of "psychology and drama" introduced her to the world of Drama Therapy. Diana is currently working with developmentally disabled young adults at the S.F. Unified School District and will start her practicum at Oakes Children Center in Fall 2015. She is passionate about Self- Revelatory performance and aims to establish her career in Hong Kong after graduation.

Amanda Johnston (2014)

Amanda Johnston (2014) received her BA in Psychology from the CA State University, Sacramento in 2012 with a concentration in childhood and adolescent development and counseling. She then volunteered as a crisis counselor for two years with the CA Youth Crisis Line (1-800-843-5200) while actively engaging in community theatre: onstage acting, singing, and dancing as well as offstage as production manager for the Green Valley Theatre Company. She also worked for a year as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the CA Coalition for Youth, advocating for runaway and homeless youth across the state. She will be starting her pre-practicum this summer working with the elderly at StageBridge, and will be applying for practicums working with children and families.

Marianne Shine (2013)

Marianne Shine (2013) is a first generation American raised by Holocaust survivors. She is currently interning at Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital inpatient and out-patient facilities. Before that she interned at San Quentin doing Shakespeare behind bars. She is a founding member of the theatre company, New Works West, and is a working actor in theatre and film.

Rebecca Siegel (2013)

Rebecca Siegel (2013) received her BA in Theatre and Comparative Religion from Colorado College ('08), where she founded and directed a guerrilla theatre company with a social justice focus. She completed pre-practicums at Stagebridge, a performing arts camp for adults over 50, and at San Quentin State Prison. She is a member of the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble under the direction of drama therapist Armand Volkas. Rebecca also continues to work with local directors, choreographers and companies in the Bay Area as a professional dancer and actress.

Alumni Profiles

Aileen B. Cho, RDT (MA '12), MFT

Aileen B. Cho, RDT (MA '12) received her BA in Theatre (with a minor in Psychology) from UC San Diego. She completed her practicum in the mental health department of a VA medical center, a community mental health and psychological services agency, and in the public high school and middle schools. She has worked in several residential inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment programs for both adults and adolescents recovering from eating disorders in both San Francisco and Southern California. Aileen is affiliated with the Korean American Psychological Association and currently a MFT Intern at the Living Arts Counseling Center and a primary therapist at the Casa Serena Eating Disorder Program. Aileen also directs Self-Revelatory Performances, performs with the Living Arts Counseling Center's Playback Theatre Ensemble, and continues to pursue further training through the Developmental Transformations (DvT) Institute.

Ben Rivers (MA, '10), RDT

Ben Rivers (MA, '10), RDT, was born in the UK and raised in Australia. He specializes in the use of applied theatre for community mobilization, cultural activism and collective trauma response.  Ben has taught and practiced in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.  He is a founding member of The Freedom Theatre's Freedom Bus initiative (Jenin, Occupied Palestine) and a Co-founder of the Arab School of Playback Theatre (Beirut, Lebanon).  He is currently completing doctoral research at the University of New England, Australia. Ben is based in the Middle East where he works as a freelance trainer, facilitator, psychotherapist and community organiser.

Doug Ronning (MA, '06), MFT, RDT/BCT

Doug Ronning (MA, '06), MFT, RDT/BCT, is a drama therapist with a private practice in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, compulsive disorders, and relational stress. Formerly, he was the Program Director for Ohlhoff Outpatient Programs in San Francisco. He is the creator of the event series Monster Movie Salon ( which combines drama therapy with film and cultural studies. He also co-created and co-facilitates (with a Certified Nutritional Consultant) the Couples in the Kitchen workshops. He is an adjunct faculty member at CIIS.

Saun-Toy Trotter (MA '00), MFT

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 performance. Saun-Toy has used her yoga teacher training to integrate drama therapy and somatic practices.

Robert Sarison (MA '98), RDT, MFT

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. Rob has a private practice with families, couples, and individuals.

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