When I tell people that I am a drama therapist, I usually get one of two responses. The first is, “You’re a trauma therapist?” and the second is, “Oh, what’s that?”
Drama Therapy is a powerful way to explore the deeper parts of ourselves through creative expression. It allows us to integrate the creative right side of our brain and the logical left side of our brain for a more holistic healing process. Drama Therapy is best explored by “doing” so I thought it might be nice to give an example of what a drama therapy group for mothers might look like.
A group of women gather together. There is trepidation in the air. Some hold their babies and some have come by themselves. They are all seeking something, each with their own hopes despite their current feelings of uncertainty. Some begin to introduce themselves, while others sit quietly.
The drama therapist introduces herself and welcomes all the mothers to the group. “You are all here for a reason. Maybe you’ve been feeling isolated or overwhelmed. Maybe you’ve been feeling disconnected from who you are currently versus who you felt you’ve always been. Maybe you just need to tap into your creativity, play and laugh. Whatever the reason, you belong here.”
She goes on to talk about the goal of the group, connecting awesome women to one another for support and creative expression. She then explains her background as a theatre artist, psychotherapist and mom of a curious preschooler and says, “This motherhood thing is amazing and maddening and wonderful and awful all in the same five minutes. This is not a space for advice or judgment. This is a space to feel seen and I’m excited for you all to be here.” She then goes on to explain the ground rules for the group and asks if anyone has any more they want to add.
The group begins by saying their names and why they have chosen to come to the group. Then they create a movement and sound with their body to express how they are feeling in the moment. The group mirrors back that movement and sound, beginning the process of attunement and validation. A few more simple improvisational games are played to bring everyone together. The energy has already begun to change.
The drama therapist places pictures of women on the ground. They have a variety of expressions and represent woman from different cultural backgrounds and time periods. The drama therapist asks each woman to choose a picture that speaks to her. She asks the women to work in pairs, interviewing each other in the role of the woman she has chosen. We begin to find out the hopes and dreams, the challenges, and the desires of the women in the pictures. We begin to explore the commonalities of women and how their struggles are also our own. Somehow it doesn’t feel so lonely anymore.
The women, now feeling more comfortable are invited to explore a variety of materials to begin creating masks. These masks will represent both what we show and what we hide. It may be an exaggerated version of who they are or it may be subtle. There is no wrong. As the women begin working on their masks, some also attending to their babies, they begin to explore what they know and what they prefer. They become deeply focused on their work. Soon the time to create comes to a close. The women are asked if they would like to share the story of their mask.
At first, there is silence. Vulnerability cloaks each woman into a place of deep reflection. One courageous woman says, “I’ll go.” She speaks in the role of her mask to the joy and anger she feels as well as the resentment she has for carrying the mental load. The drama therapist asks if her mask has a name and she titles it, “Work in Progress”. The group members are asked to reflect back how they feel in a physical gesture, honoring their role of witnesses. One by one, each woman shares her story. The group holds the space in honor of the woman speaking.
As the group concludes, the therapist asks the women if they would like to share something they received from the group and something they give back. Once everyone has shared, the drama therapist guides the group through three deep breaths. She thanks the group for their courage and invites them to return.
If you are interested in finding out more about drama therapy, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me today for a free 15 minute consultation.