Talk therapy isn’t for everyone.
Psychotherapy, or “the talking cure,” is only one approach to insight and change.
Psychotherapy is currently the most well-known approach to therapy. So much so, that the word “therapy” is often used to refer to it.
But psychotherapy is just ONE kind of therapy. We kind of know this, because physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy, for example, are all also forms of therapy!
I am a drama therapist.
What does that mean?
We call psychotherapy “talk therapy” because it uses verbal speech as the language of therapy. As a drama therapist, I use drama as the language that helps create insight or change.
In a drama therapy session, we might still talk. But the goal is to move towards embodiment, or a fancy word that means having awareness of the feelings and sensations happening inside your body in the present moment.
Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes, take a breath, and just notice if you have any awareness of physical sensations in any part of your body. It is 100% okay if you don’t!
This kind of process can cause anxiety, so we may go slow, depending on your current comfort level and experience. You never have to do anything that you don’t want to do and we are always co-creating whatever happens in a therapy session together.
As a drama therapist, I use dramatic tools and processes like movement or gesture, role play, storytelling, masks, puppetry, costumes, props, etc. Anything that might reasonably be involved in the creation of a stage play, we can use in our work together.
Drama therapy often involves role play with parts of self – like the Inner Critic, or your Inner Child. When I was first diagnosed with depression, one of the things that most helped was noticing certain thoughts, and labeling them as coming from Depression. This sense of Depression as a part of me, but something that didn’t have to take full control, made it easier to not fall into a spiral of negative thoughts. Drama therapy allows you to take your thoughts, and turn them into a character that you can have a conversation with. Doing that out loud makes it easier to do inside your head later.
But you don’t have to know anything about theatre or drama, or have any experience acting, to benefit from drama therapy – that’s why I’m here!
As a drama therapist, I can bring my experience as a theatre artist to the table, and use those tools as a part of our work together. Acting in plays in college was a way for me to experience and express intense emotions without being completely overwhelmed by them. I could use the experiences of the character I was playing to work through issues in my own life, or practice interacting with the world in a different way. And that is part of the reason I decided to learn this approach.
Drama therapy can really benefit you if you feel creatively blocked, or have a hard time accessing emotions or creative expression. In fact, the less creative you feel right now, the more likely it is that drama therapy can really help you!
Creativity is like a muscle – the more you work it, the easier it gets. Drama therapy is about sticking a toe outside your comfort zone, and getting more comfortable with trying something new.
I am passionate about using drama therapy to heal trauma, especially childhood trauma. Because trauma triggers can feel confusing and overwhelming, it is often easier to make sense of them using creative processes, and by associating things like color, texture, metaphor, etc. instead of trying to use language. Drama therapy is also very effective for anyone who struggles to regulate emotional reactions to life stress.
I am also passionate about helping individuals in the helping professions (other therapists, social workers, doctors, nurses, teachers, or others in healthcare and social services). So often, you take care of everyone else and neglect yourself! Through drama therapy, we can create space for nurturing and creative self-care rituals, and help you find ways to release work stress instead of holding it in your body.
Since drama therapy is creative, it is very flexible and easily molded to your unique strengths and needs. Drama therapy can also help you understand all the ways your current forms of cultural expression are healing, and we can use and build on them intentionally as a part of our work together. And since we don’t have to use language, drama therapy is much more accessible – it might be effective if English is your second language, or if you have difficulty expressing yourself verbally.
I am also queer and non-binary, and I became a drama therapist because I know from lived experience how harmful it can be to seek out therapy as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I can provide affirming and sex-positive services to anyone who is questioning their gender or sexuality, or who values the perspective of someone with lived experience.
So, if the idea of talk therapy has never interested you, or if you’ve tried it with limited success, or you like the idea of getting more in touch with creative expression in your life, drama therapy might be right for you!