Uncovering Strengths with Drama Therapy

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Three women creating physical sculptures as would be done in a drama therapy group.So often in therapy, it can be easy to focus on the deficits. People enter the space often thinking something is wrong with them. What can be difficult to remember is that the problem we are experiencing is not who we are, it’s the current narrative. What’s promising about this is that we have the ability to change this narrative. Too often, strengths are hidden under the veil of what it is happening and it can take a lot of digging to uncover strengths deep inside ourselves. These strengths can assist us in “restorying” our lives and creating new scripts that aren’t overrun by the negative symptoms or behaviors you might be experiencing.

So, what does that have to do with drama therapy?

In drama therapy, we can play with the relationship we have with our problems and uncover strengths that can continue to be built on. By externalizing the problem, you can create a new relationship with the problem. You might have a conversation with anxiety and tell it what you need. It may respond with a surprising answer.

You might create a mask of how you currently feel and then a mask of how you would like to feel. The drama therapist may help you learn to ground by stepping into a scene that brings you peace or calm.

If you are struggling with a relationship, you can rehearse conversations you need to have in a safe space, practicing new ways to communicate. You might even say everything you would like to say but are afraid it may be too harsh. Getting it all out is important and can even be therapeutic since there is no risk in hurting the person you need to have the conversation with. Drama therapy can help deconstruct and reconstruct the conversation so you feel more comfortable in having the conversation.

Perhaps you are on a personal journey and obstacles like overwhelm, stress, and anxiety keep interfering. You might explore a conversation with the obstacles and ways to better manage them.

Drama therapy uses the whole body to support healing.

Drama therapists use a whole person approach. We support clients in integrating all parts of themselves to increase wellness. While talking is certainly useful in processing, it only uses the left side of the brain. Creative expression uses the right side of the brain. In using both, we integrate both sides of the brain allowing our brain to integrate to find relief.

It’s easy to feel self-conscious at first.

The word “drama” can invoke the fear of performance or public speaking. Unless you are working on a self-revelatory performance for an audience or bring in close supports to witness our work, there won’t be people watching or judging. If you are working with a group, other members are there for the same reason as you. Drama Therapy is about the process. It’s about embodiment. If you’ve never done it before, it might feel weird at first, but it might also feel like a release.

Drama Therapy helps for many areas of difficulty.

Drama Therapy has demonstrated time and time again through peer reviewed studies that it is effective for a wide range of challenges. It’s especially helpful for social anxiety. There is nothing like being in a group of other people with social anxiety doing improvisation to confront the fear.

There are many ways that drama therapists engage clients in the process.

Just as there are numerous psychotherapy theories, drama therapists are rooted in different theories as well. It’s good to know what type of drama therapy someone specializes in to see if you would be a good fit in working together.

As a Registered Drama Therapist, I’ve seen firsthand the healing that takes place.

Drama and theatre are slowly becoming a more well-known therapy modality. In his book about trauma, “The Body Keeps the Score,” Bessel Van Der Kolk has a section called Finding Your Voice: Communal Rhythms and Theater. As drama therapists, we have known for a long time that theatre and drama have the power to heal from trauma. Hopefully, the more people talk about, the more people will know the power that drama therapy holds in healing.

Interesting in learning more about drama therapy? Check out the North American Drama Therapy Association website.

If you’re curious about drama therapy and the creative arts to support you in your healing. Please contact me for a free brief consultation.

Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.