A Day in the Life of a Drama Therapist
Ok, not exactly a day - but below are some examples and summaries of a few clients that I have worked with, through creative approaches and drama. Hopefully, they will give you an insight into what drama therapy can offer, and where it meets other therapy schools working to improve people's lives.
Child Sexual Abuse A young child was referred by a school to help with her emotions and talk about what had happened. Beginning as always with building a good therapeutic relationship, the child was supported to feel safe. Talking was difficult, so over 7 sessions we developed a story about a Princess and her good friend, who was a Monster in disguise.
The story had 3 parts - the first part was about the good memories and fun times they had together. The second was where she was made to do things she did not want to, or things she could not understand. She spoke of eating horrible snails, and killing pigs, which made her feel sick. The third part was understanding it was not her fault she did those things, because the Monster had been tricking her. Although it seems simple, the process had the profound effect of helping this child in many ways. She was able to…
Make sense of her mixed feelings
Resolve feelings of guilt
Separate the good and bad
Understand why it happened
Work towards some closure
And, most importantly regain her strength as a Princess!
A single mother was struggling with her relationship with her son who was portraying very challenging behaviour within the home. He had a negative attitude towards his sister, mother and women in general. Parents were separated and contact with dad was very inconsistent. Over 15 sessions, I was able to see the Mum individually, as a counselling support; the son individually, to support him in expressing his feelings about his dad (he wanted neutral space to be able to “say whatever he wanted about his dad and swear without getting in trouble from his mum”). Sessions for the siblings helped them rebuild the closeness they had lost. Together as a family, we learned of times dad had been abusive and neglectful at home, and why the son had developed such resentment and blame towards his mum.
Bean bags and cushions were a great resource in releasing and expressing anger!
Interactive play and games allowed reconnection & better communication
Good boundaries were reestablished at home.
A shared canvas painting captured the hope they had generated, for them to take home
Helping with Depression and Anxiety
The adult client found it difficult to understand her low mood and motivation. She felt very anxious when leaving the house and meeting new people. She had 20 sessions in total.
The first few sessions were counselling within a CBT approach. We set short term goals and kept a mood diary. However we realised that we were going round in circles and the client felt increasingly stuck. We then created a story with different characters which we explored. We did some role play work and explored the characters and their lives in detail. She had the opportunity to
Experience different roles & different ways of being
Visualise what it would be like to be more confident
Put herself in other people’s shoes and create a preferred world for herself
Really move forward and to make the changes she had been looking for
A last word, for now...
There really are multiple ways to address emotional and relationship issues in our lives. It doesn't have to be formal, and certainly doesn't always need to rely on just talking. Being creative unlocks potential, and can often create deeper insights than would otherwise be possible, because language is just one of the ways in which we communicate and relate to ourselves, and our world.
BSc Psychology, MA Drama Therapy