What is Dramatherapy?
Dramatherapy is an expressive form of psychotherapy and counselling which uses creative mediums in order to communicate and explore feelings and issues. These creative mediums can include drama and play, stories and art , and may often also include aspects of movement, music and voice.
It can be verbal and non verbal, and is found in a variety of different settings to help people with a range of different issues. Dramatherapy is used in primary and secondary schools as well as specialist schools and colleges for prevention, intervention and treatment of a wide range of presenting issues such as social, emotional, behavioural, communication and mental health concerns.
Dramatherapy is particularly useful for children and adolescents when a talking only therapy is not possible, and who would benefit from exploring their feelings within a creative context. Children and adolescents are invited to do as much or as little as they like and to explore feelings in an indirect way, therefore they may find it less intimidating and confrontational than other forms of therapy.
Dramatherapy is an evidence based approach, and one of the four recognised and accredited Creative Arts Psychotherapies (Drama, Dance & Movement, Art and Music). In the UK Dramatherapists are required to complete recognised professional training at MA level in order to work, as well as registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Only those who fulfil these criteria can use the title Dramatherapist.
Why Do You Need Dramatherapy in Your School?
It is impossible when working with children of any age and in any capacity not to notice how important drama, creativity and play are to their every day life. Drama, creativity and play are a crucial part of healthy human development, which is why they remain a core part of the curriculum in primary, secondary and special education.
In every school though, we notice a few individual children who either cannot or will not play or be creative, and this is usually the first sign that something might be wrong. For others, their play or creativity can help tell a story or can communicate otherwise undisclosed feelings. In secondary schools we find that many teenagers struggle to articulate their feelings with adults, and Dramatherapy can offer a different way in for them to explore the things that they are facing as they experince personal and external change, and begin their journey of self discovery.
When children and young people are faced with difficulties it may be hard for them to express their feelings in a verbal way, but through the creative mediums of drama, play, story, art, music and movement, dramatherapy can help them to be understood, and can support positive changes.
It is for this reason that Dramatherapy can be an effective form of intervention to help troubled children and young people in schools, in order to support and promote social and mental health and wellbeing. We are fortunate that the world our children live in today is one which understands mental health much better than in previous decades, which is why the government now states that each school should be working towards becoming a mentally healthy school by 2015. Dramatherapy encompasses a wide range of therapeutic techniques including an advanced form of play therapy, which the government currently suggest as the most effective way to support mental health issues in primary school age children.
Dramatherapy is not about performing and no previous experience or interest in performing arts or drama is necessary. All the work is confidential as with any form of psychotherapy or counselling. Dramatherapists work closely with SENCo's and other staff members in schools to ensure each child in the school is getting the right support needed. Dramatherapists can attend annual review meetings, as well as offer reports to LAC and annual reviews. Therapists at The Leap Frog Kids also have excellent relations with local outisde agencies such as CAMHS and are able to support schools with CAFs and other referral forms to these agencies.