What to expect from drama therapy?
Like in talk therapy you will meet regularly with your therapist for an hour-long session (once a week or bi-weekly, depending on your needs) to process and heal from difficult past or present life situations. Your therapist will engage you in a conversation about your current difficulties and depending on your needs, level of comfort and interest will propose different techniques to use with you such as role-playing, letter writing or projecting your feeling onto an object or story to help you gain a deeper perspective and awareness on your situation, feelings and relationships. Your therapist will use these techniques to help you develop personal insights and awareness, face behavioral blocks, express difficult feelings, and experience an emotional catharsis. Your therapist will also process these experiences with you verbally.
Drama Therapy Techniques
Working in the here and now
Drama therapy invites personal growth, self-awareness and spontaneity, through a creative process. Although the therapist plans each session based on a theme and goals of the client, they are trained to deal effectively with emotions or difficult themes that might arise during the session. These situations provide meaningful opportunities for growth through role-play, role reversal, improvisation and other drama-based processes that provide rehearsals-for-living. You will also have many opportunities to learn and practice social-emotional integration and reflect on past behaviors or experiences.
Projective techniques are a key feature of drama therapy. It is a distanced approach that allows people to project onto an inanimate object, or fictionalized character, feelings, thoughts, fears and wishes. It is often easier to create a fictional character to explore unexpressed feelings, than it is to express this on your own.
A drama therapist may integrate other creative arts modalities as a tool for projection. You may be asked to write a story or letter, invent a fictional character, give the character a voice or pretend to become that character. Each character might interact with the therapist through scene work and role-play. The safety of working through projective techniques are aimed to free you from the negative images you may hold of yourself, and open you up to new behaviors and perceptions of yourself.
Embodiment and role
Through the embodiment of character and role-play, clients gain a new experience of themselves in the here and now. Unlike talk-therapy, drama therapy engages the clients through all their senses, as well as through the body – kinesthetically. This visceral experience is internalized. Drama therapy is especially helpful for articulating difficult thoughts and feelings, as clients can act out emotions that have been unexpressed. For people, who may have difficulty with self-reflection and making the connection of the enactment to their own lives, the experience in drama therapy enables them to interact and react in different ways. In drama therapy, acquiring knowledge is a lived experience.