"The integration of multiple perspectives and social justice throughout was an essential and unique part of the program. My time in the program was meaningful to me in and of itself, even aside from the work it led to after graduation."
-Samira Sheahan, graduated from the program in 2020

Of 81 current and recent students:

  • 42% came from out of state
  • 14% are international students
  • 44% came from California
Drama Therapy Informational Video Play Video
Play Video
PDT Graduate: Sara Kliger Graduate Sara Kliger Talks About the Drama Therapy Program at CIIS Play Video
Play Video

Student Profiles

Kate Olson

Kate Olson graduated from the Ohio State University in 2016 with bachelors degrees in theatre and psychology before moving to San Francisco to study drama therapy. She discovered drama therapy after taking an undergraduate class called "Shakespeare and Autism," where she played games based on Shakespeare's The Tempest with youth and adolescents on the autism spectrum. She is a troupe member of the 2018 Theatre for Change project Consent, Dissent, Reinvent, and she works as the program assistant in the CIIS Office of Diversity of Inclusion.

Kate recently started practicum at the Liberation Institute, a grassroots non-profit that aims to increase accessibility to professional mental health support. For pre-practicum, she worked with Armand Volkas at the Living Arts Counseling Center supporting clients to create and perform autobiographical therapeutic performances. As an artist with a passion for healing, social justice, and accessibility, Kate intends to continue exploring the intersection of drama therapy and devised theatre. 

Jordana de Lory

Jordana received her BA in Theatre Arts from UC Santa Cruz and has performed around the world as a singer. In undergrad, Jordana became involved in performing, directing, and devising cross-cultural performance pieces for social change. She founded and directed "Bustin Out" a social change theatre and performance company for high-risk youth at The Door, A Center of Alternatives in New York City, where she supervised and developed mental health and creative arts programs for LGTBQI, immigrant, formerly incarcerated, foster care, and runaway homeless youth. She has consulted and trained in New York City nonprofits and schools to implement restorative justice practices.

Jordana has a certificate in Creative Arts and Health from The New School University, where she trained with drama, music, and dance therapists working with inpatient and outpatient adults and adolescents at The Weill Cornell New York Presbyterian Hospital. For her pre-practicum, she supported elders at Stagebridge in devising and performing original theatre about social change. She is a member of NADTA, and proud to be a CIIS Drama Therapy Ambassador!

Geno Creese

Geno graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BFA in Acting in 2013 and returned to his hometown of Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. After a few years, he realized that something was missing: he wanted to use the arts to heal. He is now a second-year Drama Therapy student. Geno is also a member of the Living Arts Playback Theater Ensemble, a member of the 2018 Theater for Change troupe, and he teaches social skills classes for young adults with Autism through The Miracle Project. He is doing his pre-practicum at San Quentin State Prison with the Marin Shakespeare Company, and he will begin his Practicum with the East Bay Agency for Children (EBAC) in Fall, working with adolescents coming out of the juvenile justice system.

Alumni Profiles

Sara Kliger (MA '16), RDT

Sara Kliger (MA '16), RDT is proud to be a Registered Drama Therapist and holds the LCAT permit in New York. Before attending the Drama Therapy program, Sara graduated with honors in Theatre from Skidmore College in 2009. She has performed in New York City and around Europe as a singer and actor. She enjoys working with adolescents and their families within the New York City school system and supervising NYU Drama Therapy students. Additionally, she facilitates executive coaching and professional development workshops with organizations and young professionals. Sara is devising and creating a new Therapeutic Theatre piece with other Drama Therapists in New York City.

Diana Chu (MA '16), MFT, RDT

Diana Chu (MA '16), MFT, RDT was born in Hong Kong and received her BA in Psychology and Drama from University of Toronto, Canada. She has a passion for eliciting stories, uncovering unarticulated needs, and understanding how people make meaning of their experiences. She worked at Oakes Children Center, Community Youth Center, SF and Living Arts Counseling Center. Diana is currently working as a Mental Health Consultant at Richmond Area Multi-Services Inc.  

Rebecca Seigel (MA '16), RDT

Rebecca Siegel (MA '16), RDT, is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and theatre artist. She currently works in private practice at Heart in Balance Counseling Center and as a school-based Mental Health Counselor. Rebecca is a Playback Theatre actor and instructor, and is company manager of the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble. She is also a director of Autobiographical Therapeutic Performances at the Living Arts Counseling Center and of Self-Revelatory performances at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Previously, she has worked as a drama therapist and group therapist with adolescents and adults with eating disorders in hospitals and partial hospitalization settings, incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison, and served as Assistant Director for the Shakespeare for Social Justice Theatre Troupe, featuring a cast of formerly incarcerated actors and artists. She has a BA in Theatre. She pursues additional training in Developmental Transformations, through the iWest Institute.

Marianne Shine (MA '15), MFT, RDT

Marianne Shine (MA '15), LMFT, RDT is a first generation American raised by Holocaust survivors. She has a private drama therapy practice in Mill Valley and also directs and teaches Shakespeare at San Quentin Prison. She has done extensive training in EMDR and Hakomi and is working towards certification in both. She still performs on Bay Area stages and is currently writing a one-woman show, where sections have been performed at StageWerx. She is a director of Self-Revelatory Performances at CIIS and a mother to three grown sons. Her clinical experience included inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment at Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital at UCSF, Grief Counseling at Hospice, and Middle and Elementary School Counseling. She is passionate about working with actors, teens, elderly, and people at transition points in their lives. A few times a year she works as a travel therapist and group facilitator for Adventure Women tours. 

Aileen B. Cho (MA '13), LMFT, RDT, CEDS

Aileen B. Cho (MA '13), LMFT, RDT, CEDS currently works in her private practice and at the Alta Bates Hospital as an Adult Outpatient Eating Disorder Program Group Psychotherapist and an Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatric Unit Mental Health Specialist. Her past clinical experiences include training and working in domestic violence and sexual assault shelters, community mental health, veteran affairs, middle/high school settings and with individuals, groups and families in all levels of treatment for eating and co-occurring disorders. Aileen is an Adjunct Faculty Lecturer in the Drama Therapy Program, a past actor and director of CIIS’ Theatre for Change and a past troupe member of the Living Arts Playback Theater Ensemble. Aileen currently directs Self-Revelatory performances at CIIS and is a co-assistant director/faculty at the iWest DvT (Developmental Transformations) Institute in San Francisco. 

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 at TheraThrive in Lafayette, California, working with children, adolescents, adults, and families. He specializes 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 (monstermoviesalon.com) which combines drama therapy with film and cultural studies. 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), LMFT, RDT

Robert Sarison (MA '98), LMFT, RDT, is the Director of Campus Programs for the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, where he supervises creative arts therapists, including practicum students from the Drama Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy Programs at CIIS. Previously, Rob was director of California Pacific Medical Center’s Swindells Alzheimer’s Residential Care Program for nearly twenty years.  In addition, Rob has a private psychotherapy practice where he uses Developmental Transformations as a primary modality.

Alumna Shefali Tsabary speaks about the Drama Therapy Program Play Video
Play Video

Shefali Tsabary is a graduate of the Drama Therapy program at CIIS, and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is author of several bestselling books, including The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children and The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting.

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