Drama Therapy (written dramatherapy in the UK) is the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health. Dramatherapy is used in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, mental health centers, prisons, and businesses. Drama Therapy, as a form of Expressive Arts Therapy, (also known as Expressive Therapy), exists in many forms and can be applicable to individuals, couples, families, and various groups.
The modern use of dramatic process and theatre as a therapeutic intervention began with Psychodrama. The field has expanded to allow many forms of theatrical interventions as therapy including role-play, theatre games, group-dynamic games, mime, puppetry, and other improvisational techniques. Often, "Drama Therapy" is utilized to help a client:
The theoretical foundation of "Drama Therapy" lies in drama, theater, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, play, and interactive and creative processes.
- · · Solve a problem
- · · Achieve a catharsis
- · · Delve into truths about self
- · · Understand the meaning of personally resonant images
- · · Explore and transcend unhealthy personal patterns of behavior and interpersonal interaction
In his book, "Drama as Therapy: Theory, practice and research," Phil Jones describes the emergence of the intentional use of drama as therapy as three-fold. First a long history of drama as a healing force with ancient roots in the healing rituals and dramas of various societies. The connection between drama and the psychological healing of society, though not of the individual, was first formally acknowledged by Aristotle, who was the originator of the term 'catharsis'. Secondly, in the early twentieth century, hospital theatre and the work of Moreno, Evreinov, and Iljine, marked a new attitude towards the relationship between therapy and theatre that provided a foundation for the emergence of drama therapy later in the century. Finally, influenced by experimental approaches to theatre, group dynamics, role playing and psychology in the 1960s, drama therapy emerged as a creative arts therapy in the 1970s.
Today, drama therapy is practiced around the world and there are presently academic training programs in Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and the United States.