Dramatherapy is a type of therapy that allows you to explore emotional difficulties through the medium of drama. This could involve a variety of activities including writing and learning scripts, improvisation exercises, or activities using puppets and masks.
Dramatherapy is often used within a group environment, however, it can be used in one to one sessions too. A dramatherapist will use different techniques and may help you create a fictional story to portray. Usually, the fictitious story will be your own story re-told through different characters. Creating this space between yourself and the emotional concerns being explored can offer clarity and a sense of relief or catharsis.
A typical group dramatherapy session may work like this:
- Check-in – This is designed to help the dramatherapist understand how you’re feeling today. Younger children may be supported in this with the use of emotion cards.
- Warm-up – At this point, the dramatherapist will want to prepare you for the session. A warm-up activity is something that loosens the muscles and engages the imagination; an example of this is the name game where members of the group introduce themselves by stating their name and miming an action that represents how they are feeling.
- The main activity – This is when the therapist will help the group explore issues through various dramatherapy techniques such as role-play.
- Closing – At the end of the session the therapist may ask for your input into how you think the session went, or they may de-brief the group to let you know what you’ve achieved.
For the main activity, dramatherapists can use a range of techniques and activities such as role-play, improvisation, mime, speech, movement, acting out (re-enacting behaviours or situations that have caused you problems in the past), and using props and masks.
Dramatherapy does not require any previous acting experience or acting skill, making it accessible to a wide range of people. It can be helpful for many issues including addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low self-confidence, relationship difficulties, schizophrenia, self-harming, and traumatic experiences.