Drama Therapy Definitions

Jacob Levy Moreno
(born Bucharest, Romania, May 18, 1889; died New York, USA, May 14, 1974) was an Austrian- American leading psychiatrist and psycho sociologist, thinker and educator, a Sephardi Jew born in Romania, the founder of psychodrama, and the foremost pioneer of group psychotherapy. During his lifetime, he was recognized as one of the leading social scientists

What is Drama Therapy?
The use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote health
Often, drama therapy is utilized to help a client:
• Solve a problem
• Achieve a catharsis
• Delve into truths about self
• Understand the meaning of personally resonant images
• Explore and transcend unhealthy patterns of interaction

Role Theory
A perspective in sociology and in social psychology that considers most of everyday activity to be the acting out of socially defined categories (e.g., mother, manager, teacher).

Bibliodrama is structured in five steps. The steps are a progressive journey into the text. They begin with description, continue by gradually immersing the
players into character, and culminate with playing out a scene. Finally, the
players are debriefed and what has been learned is reviewed through the step
labeled, “Closure.” An important aspect of Bibliodrama is that any of the steps
may be chosen to fit into a lesson without the other steps, or in combination, as
suits the leader, time constraints, or dynamics of the group

Puppetry in Therapy
The puppet becomes a mediator, with the potential to reach the child and provide an acceptable outlet for expression of feelings. Often a child is too young or frightened to verbalize the complexity of medical treatment. A puppet becomes a friend who can touch, comfort, and react to what the child thinks or feels. By entering the child’s world of fantasy and imagination, a puppet can help to identify fears and misconceptions and teach children about what is happening to them. We will examine the drama therapeutic projective technique and theatrical technique of puppetry

Define projection
Projective identification is the process whereby a person identifies with a character in a story.

Dramatic distancing
refers to the way that emotional and psychological problems can be accessed easier through metaphor. The client has a distanced relationship through metaphor to these problems that makes them easier to tolerate.

Psychodrama’s core function is the raising of spontaneity. is a form of human development which explores, through dramatic action, the problems, issues, concerns, dreams and highest aspirations of people, groups, systems and organizations. It is mostly used as a group work method, in which each person in the group can become a therapeutic agent for each other in the group. The audience is fully involved with the dramatic action. Audience involvement is either through personal interest in the concerns of the leading actor, called the protagonist; or through playing some roles of the drama which helps the protagonist; or taking the form of some of the other elements of the drama

is a dramatic play in which several individuals act out assigned roles for the purpose of studying and remedying problems in group or collective relationships.[1] It was developed by social scientist Jacob L. Moreno to explore sociological interests using the techniques he originated in Psychodrama for Psychology

Playback Theatre
is an original form of improvisational theatre in which audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot. Playback Theatre is sometimes considered a modality of drama therapy. Founded in 1975 by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas. Fox was a student of improvisational theatre, oral traditional storytelling, psychodrama and the work of Paulo Freire.

is a technique where a participant, perhaps asked by the psychodrama director, supplements the role (self, role reversal) of the the protagonist, usually by standing behind the them and saying things that the protagonist might want to say or is withholding. In this way one is able to hear things that may (or not) reflect what they feel or think. Thereby, the doubling can help provoke abreactive and mental catharsis, insight, and transformation

Developmental Transformations
Developmental Transformations is a practice involving the continuous transformation of embodied encounters in the playspace. Designed to enhance personal growth through improvisational free play, the method has been developed by drama therapists over the past twenty years. Generally, Developmental Transformations is attractive to people who like to (or who want to) play, move around, and make noise during their sessions
Emotional narrative vs. Literal Narrative

What is Drama Therapy?

“All the world is not, of course, a stage,
but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy to specify.”
–Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Drama therapy is an effective means of making sense of and/or finding meaning in life. I believe creative self-expression is inherently healing and life enhancing. Through the process of self-expression, drama therapy can help people organize their inner reactions to events in their lives. Performance, embodiment and reflection enables them to understand and express their feelings more clearly. By encouraging creativity, imagination and role playing, persons reexamine or redefine their self descriptions (Garcia & Buchanan 112). The organizing function served by drama therapy enables clients to find meaning in their experience. This in turn may aid them in defining goals and desired outcomes.
Embodying the role/counter-role/guide in the classroom setting has allowed me to understand its functionality in a therapeutic encounter. Reading about drama therapy followed by embodying the technique has provided a well rounded experience. I better understand the therapeutic goal of helping a client move towards a balanced state where problematic roles are integrated with appropriate counterroles by means of the transitional guide figure. The healing happens when the process allows clients to relate to the conflict caused by living in a paradoxical reality. This allows them to live a balanced life by accepting imbalance. Using performance as a tool to enact the roles and stories in their life gives them the healing benefit to acknowledge said roles and experience imaginary situations in a safe contained environment. Practitioners of developmental transformations believe the healing occurs fully through the play and drama and the reflection process is not necessary to affect change (Landy 113).
As Landy explained, when a protagonist is able to reflect on feelings experienced in the drama and relate it back to the group process and everyday life, catharsis of integration occurs (Landy 160).
Performance is healing through the use of psychodrama when a client experiences catharsis by revisiting a painful experience and discharges anger through dramatic action. Dramatizing alternative stories offers a client new input and expands their repertory of roles. By dramatizing through performance a client begins to experience a shift which will eventually help to heal (Garcia & Buchanan 117).
Performance provides catharsis for the protagonist, but it is also healing from the spectator’s perspective. While watching the autobiographical performances I experienced several moments of catharsis; as described by Moreno when explaining Aristotle’s concept of catharsis. During various points of my classmate’s performances I was able to identify with the dilemma of the actor on the stage. As Moreno explained, the novelty and surprise of dramatic action fueled the release of feelings (Landy 136).
Through all of the various techniques explored in class I have come to discover many roles within myself. Many of these roles I was aware of and some of them came as a surprise. Through drama therapy I have learned that performance offers a whole new role and a new way of viewing life. Situations and roles that were introduced in class were carried over into “real life”. The most exciting aspect of my newfound perspective towards drama therapy is learning how my passion for drama and the theater can be applied towards meaningful, respectful work that can help to empower people to change their life in a very personal way.

1) Landy, Robert. The Couch and the Stage. United Kingdom: Jason Aronson, 2008.
2) Garcia, Antonina and Buchanan, Dale Richard. Psychodrama: Chapter 9.
Current Approaches in Drama Therapy. Charles C. Thomas:Springfield, IL. 2000.
3) R. Landy. Essays in Drama Therapy: The Double Life, Jessica Kingsley Press, 1996

Drama Therapy, Class 1

We talked a lot about the duality of theatre and its relation to psychology. In theatre as well as drama therapy we use symbols as emotional safety. Metaphor is used to open up the experience. Metaphor incorporates “both and” vs. “either or”. Through this duality we find the balance in things, people and their personalities. Finding balance, keeping life balance is the goal in life.
Through “the couch and the stage” exercise we began to explore the differences between the two. I was surprised to discover that I gravitated more towards the couch when asked questions regarding: “Where do you feel safe”, “where are you the most yourself”, “where do you heal”. I think I picked the couch, because even though the theatre is my second home, the nature of the theatre implies a performance. When you are performing you are putting yourself out there to be judged, to be viewed. You are acting. I don’t think it is possible for me to be my truest self, under those circumstances.
I was really interested to find that the earliest forms of drama therapy were taken from Shamanism. I have always been drawn towards the occult and find it fascinating that the early shamans used a form of performance as a way to heal. In shamanism the spiritual world centers on the convergence with body and spirit. Natural and supernatural events heal physical and psychological illness. Both are spiritually based. They use herbal remedies and performing arts, music, dance, etc. to heal the unquiet mind.
I found the idea of these healing rituals fascinating and am thrilled to learn that drama therapy’s roots are based in something that I hold close to my heart.