For thousands of years drama has been used in healing rituals. In the twentieth century many creative workers have rediscovered the therapeutic value of drama and developed the related methods of dramatherapy and psychodrama.
In counselling and other forms of therapy, the basis of the work is in talking in a safe, supportive relationship. In dramatherapy this also is true; added to this is the use of creative action when it is useful to help the person progress.
For many people the word drama is connected with theatre. There is a difference. Drama is a personal experience (the word comes from the Greek 'drao': 'I do' or 'struggle') and theatre is communicating the experience to others (the word comes from the Greek 'theatron': 'a place for seeing/showing'). It can be helpful to show a therapist how we are struggling, to do so in action, not just in words.
Sometimes we cannot act on our impulses; it may not be wise to do so and we may then feel stuck. In the theatre of our lives we can feel lost, forget our lines, lose a role, feel frozen, unable to move or change. We may need a prompt, a rehearsal for the next scene, or to go back to a previous scene and sort it out. Acting can then enable us to move, to change.
Each night we enter into the strange theatre of our dreams where we experience images and dramas that have meaning in our lives. In a dramatherapy session we can explore these images and discover their meaning. It is also possible to re-work nightmares and indeed, in dramatherapy, we can dream whilst still awake, only being able this time to control the dream.
Whether we work in the past, present or future, in imagination or reality, dramatherapy offers us the opportunity to recreate ourselves, rediscover our creativity, our ability to play and feel our own power to change our way of being and acting.
Dramatherapy is the use of drama as a therapeutic method. It is not, as in theatre, a specialised skill which people can or cannot do. We are all acting and active every day. In dramatherapy, each person can participate at his/her own level. There is no standard of performance, no critic (unless you bring your own); the dramatherapist will find a safe way of working that suits you. This may involve other activities, such as music, drawing, using objects to represent things, movement and images. You will have the choice of methods and the right to say no to any techniques, or to stop when you choose. These methods are ways of helping you express what you need and find the strength to cope and change.
Dramatherapy is recognised, through an act of Parliament, as a profession regulated through the Health Professions Council (HPC).