It is always challenging to answer the question, “What is drama therapy?” because drama therapy can look so many different ways!
Any aspect of theatre or drama may be incorporated into a drama therapy practice, including (but not limited to!): playwrighting; devised performance; performing existing skits, scripts, and plays; puppetry; mask work; improvisation/role play; creative drama games; voice and movement; musical theatre; set construction; costuming; lighting/sound/props; etc.
Not all drama therapists put on a full stage play as a part of their work, but some do!
Because drama and theatre require knowledge and experience in music, dance, and visual art, drama therapy is the most integrative of the creative arts therapies (art, music, dance/movement, drama, and poetry therapy).
My undergraduate training in Theatre was holistic, and I have experience not only as an actor, director, and dramaturge, but in costuming/makeup, set design/construction, stage management, lighting and sound design, and properties (prop) design and construction.
I also have significant experience with musical theatre. My father was a band director and music teacher. As a result, I can read music, and I learned to play the piano starting at age 5. I have been in both band and choir throughout middle and high school, and took several years of voice lessons in college. I also took dance lessons from a young age (ballet, tap, and jazz) and took several musical theatre dance classes in undergraduate. I have also taken modern dance and flamenco classes as an adult.
On top of that, I have 15 years worth of experience with yoga.
My approach to drama therapy is holistic and very client-centered. I am willing to experiment with just about anything that might be of interest to you.
I regularly incorporate elements of movement, music, and visual art into sessions.
Here are some examples of what that might look like:
- Creating a Self-Portrait
- Drawing roles or parts of Self (e.g. Inner Child, Inner Critic, Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, Wise Self, Future Self)
- Creating a Mask (what I show to the world vs. what I keep hidden)
- Creating a visual representation of a metaphor (e.g. “It feels like my anxiety is an octopus with its tentacles wrapped around my chest”)
- Creating a backdrop for a role play
- Bringing in your favorite song to play in session
- Using humming/singing and/or vocalization of sounds instead of words to express yourself
- Using parts of your body to create rhythm/drumming
- Writing lyrics
Dance/Movement or Yoga
- Guided Meditation
- Asking you to notice where you feel emotions in your body
- Exploring movement/gesture to express emotion instead of words
- Creating a sculpture with your body
- Improvising a dance to a song
- Stretching to “warm up” your body or refocus between activities
This is of course not a comprehensive list!
But I hope this gives you a better idea of how versatile drama therapy can be, and how drama is able to use elements from a variety of arts modalities.