Drama Therapy Practice and Competence

Drama therapy is an active, experiential approach to facilitating social, emotional and cognitive change. Drama therapy can take many forms depending on individual and group needs, skill and ability levels, interests, and therapeutic goals. 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. Through storytelling, projective play, purposeful improvisation, and performance, participants are invited to rehearse desired behaviors, practice being in relationship, expand and find flexibility between life roles, and perform personal and social change.

The theoretical foundation of drama therapy lies in drama, theater, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, sociology, occupational therapy, play, and interactive and creative processes. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express and process feelings and emotions. Participants can expand their repertoire of dramatic roles to find that their own life roles have been strengthened. Through drama therapy, the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced. Areas of practice and competence in drama therapy include:

  • Providing drama therapy services to individuals, groups, families, and communities. Drama therapy treatment includes all interactions between clients and therapist from the point when a therapeutic contract is established to the termination of treatment/care.
  • Conducting clinical assessments, drama therapy assessments, and (when appropriate) providing diagnosis to identify the issues and challenges to be addressed in therapy and to determine if treatment is indicated. Assessments are conducted for the purpose of establishing goals and objectives to empower individuals to cope with life situations, reduce stress, experience/promote growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, decisions.
  • Developing an individualized treatment plan based upon the findings of the assessment to focus the course of therapy and extra-therapeutic activities. The drama therapy treatment plan includes individualized goals and objectives as well as strengths and needs of the assessed client. The plan identifies necessary drama therapy approaches and interventions to achieve identified objectives.
  • Implementing of professional drama therapy treatment interventions including case management, evaluation, treatment planning, assessment, and referral.
  • Implementing drama therapy and clinical interventions to support the agreed upon treatment plan including all activities designed to address the clinical issues identified, to achieve treatment objectives, and utilizing strategies that effectively respond to multicultural populations.Evaluating the client’s response to the provided drama therapy and treatment plan, documenting progress, re-assessing client abilities, and suggesting modifications to continue to support client health and wellness.
  • Developing a plan to determine when drama therapy services are no longer needed in collaboration with the identified client, as well as, where appropriate, natural, social, and community supports, and other allied professionals.
  • Conducting applied research and program evaluation, including a systematic analysis of all aspects of therapy and its effectiveness.
  • Acknowledging and understanding legal issues, ethics, and standards including all aspects of therapy that involve statutes, regulations, principles, and values as well as knowledge of relevant laws and ethics impacting practice.
  • Conducting crisis intervention.
  • Consulting allied professionals and collaborating with other supports, where appropriate, in regards to the needs being addressed in drama therapy and providing education and outcomes as to how drama therapy is addressing the identified needs.
  • Providing supervision of other drama therapist and clinical professionals
  • Utilizing drama therapeutic techniques with communities and within organizations for purposes of needs assessment, community and social engagement, addressing community or social trauma, exploring social justice issues, and promoting social change
  • Engaging cultural humility as a lifelong process of self-reflection and self-critique.
  • Implementing an awareness of how our various cultures influence our values, beliefs and behaviors, including our understanding of health, distress, help-seeking, relationships, and all aspects of social life.
  • Understanding the impact of cultural oppression on mental health and addressing its negative impacts throughout the therapeutic process.

– Information provided by the North American Drama Therapy Association.