Drama Therapy & Addiction

Drama Therapy & Addiction

By Susan Finley, Ed.D., NCC

“Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to” Willem Dafoe

The following is a Q&A provided by the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA).

What is Drama Therapy?

NADTA defines drama therapy as the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals. Drama therapy is active and experiential.

When applied to addictions populations, drama therapy is especially effective, for it provides chemically dependent clients with an opportunity to safely practice the behaviors necessary for abstinence (North American Drama Therapy Association).

What is the Theoretical Framework?

The theoretical foundation of drama therapy lies in drama, theater, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, play, and interactive and creative processes.

How Does Drama Therapy Work?

Through drama, the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced. Participants can expand their repertoire of dramatic roles to find that their own life roles have been strengthened.

What Types of Techniques are used?

Processes and techniques may include improvisation, theater games, storytelling, and enactment. Many drama therapists make use of text, performance, or ritual to enrich the therapeutic and creative process.

What are the Benefits of Drama Therapy?

The process of drama therapy is both insightful and enjoyable. By engaging in drama therapy, chemically dependent clients learn that they can have fun without being high. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis. It results in increased self-esteem and self-awareness, improved communication and interpersonal skills, a better understanding of oneself and others’ perspectives.

Who Can Benefit from Drama Therapy?

Anyone can benefit from drama therapy. Because addicted individuals tend to be sensitive and creative people, they take quickly to the arts and thrive on being able to express themselves through movement, art, words, music, and drama.

Selected resources

The North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) is a non-profit association incorporated in 1979 to establish and uphold high standards of professional competence and ethics among drama therapists; to develop criteria for training and registration; to sponsor publications and conferences, and to promote the profession of drama therapy through information and advocacy.

For more information visit North American Drama Therapy Association

Video: Drama Therapy Channel: Healthy Relationship Workshop

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Susan Finley, Ed.D., NCC is an educator, published researcher, and social media consultant. She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) (e-therapy) and Suicide Prevention Instructor (QPR) under the National Board for Certified Counselors.

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