Drama Therapy Pie:

The Drama Therapy Pie was established by Sally Baily, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT. Within the pie are two different directional continuums. The up to down continuum ranges from fictional enactments to ones that are more true-to-life. Fictional work allows clients to pretend to be characters different from themselves. The left to right continuum ranges from presentational to process-oriented enactments. Other methods, such as puppets, masks, rituals, can be used as part of performance or as process techniques within a therapy session.

    Drama Therapy Methods and Modalities:

    The Drama Therapy Methods and Modalities listed below are basic definitions/concepts and do not include the many complicated details and techniques associated with each.

    • Developmental Transformations (DvT): This modality includes improvisational and embodied interaction in order to explore role repertoire or story. It focuses on participants’ capacities to communicate in subtle ways through their own bodily movement, speech, sounds, gaze, and personality. DvT may be practiced between two individuals, or with a group, a family, or a larger community.
    • Drama Exercises: Drama-based exercises allow individuals and groups to communicate with and understand one another in new ways. Drama develops physical, emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Select benefits include creating and using one’s self-confidence, imagination, empathy, cooperation, concentration, communication, playfulness, physical fitness, and memory skills. Drama exercises can provide an appropriate outlet for positive and negative emotions.
    • Improvisation: This technique – often called improv – involves acting without a script: the plot, characters and dialogue of an exercise, scene or story are made up in the moment. This practice is applicable to life, as people make decisions every day and must function “in the moment” without always knowing the outcome. This skill is used in many drama therapy methods.
    • Masks: Mask making has been used frequently throughout history in theatre and ritual. In drama therapy, this process is often used as a projective tool providing for self-exploration and reflection through a distanced means.
    • Performance: The performance process allows participants to learn about emotions and relationships by bringing to life a variety of characters, both like and unlike themselves. As a result, new insights are often gained into how other people behave, how emotions come and go, and what motivates oneself and others.
    • Playback Theatre: This technique is an original form of improvisational theatre created by Jonathan Fox in which audience members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted “on the spot” by a group of trained improvisers.
    • Psychodrama: Created by Jacob Moreno, this role-play method involves a participant exploring his/her past, present, and future in order to experience catharsis, gain new understanding of self, and learn new behavior.
    • Puppetry: The creative process includes the skill or activity of using puppets in performances or improvised group interactions.
    • Ritual: Although drama therapy exercises may change from session to session, having an established format in the check-in and closure process provides security while also enhancing the use of one’s imagination and exploration process.
    • Role Play/Role Method: This technique includes the acting out of a particular role, either consciously (as a technique in psychotherapy or training) or unconsciously, in accordance with the perceived expectations of society regarding one’s behavior in a specific context.
    • Sociodrama: Also created by Jacob Moreno, this role play method involves group members choosing an issue they wish to explore through fictional characters and improvisation.
    • Story: The conveying of events through words, images, characters and action.
    • Theatre of the Oppressed/Image Theatre: This technique was established by Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal in the 1960s. Boal’s techniques use theatre as means of promoting social and political change. In the Theatre of the Oppressed, the audience becomes active as “spect-actors.” As a result, they explore, analyze and transform the reality on the stage in order to discover new ways to change the society in which they are living.