Drama Therapy 

Have you ever lost yourself in a game of charades, gotten carried away acting in a school production, or found yourself transported by a movie? Sometimes it is easier to express our feelings through the use of a character than it is to share them as our authentic selves, as some life experiences and wounds simply are too painful to address through verbal dialogue alone. Drama provides us with the safe psychological distance needed to allow us to work through difficult emotional issues using physical and verbal expression. As with all expressive arts therapy modalities, drama allows us to express ourselves and regulate our emotions by moving stuck energy and emotion out of the body. Using drama therapeutically does not need to be done on stage or professionally and comes in many forms. Among other things, drama uses play, embodiment, projection, role, story, metaphor, empathy, distancing, witnessing, performance, and improvisation to help people make meaningful change. Charades, puppetry, improvisation, and miming are examples of modalities one can use that are both enjoyable and highly beneficial. 


Drama therapy is the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals. Drama therapy is an embodied practice that is active and experiential and can be facilitated with the help of a drama therapist,  Master's level clinicians with training in psychology and drama therapy. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis. Using metaphor to express emotion, drama is a natural fit for a therapeutic framework. 


 Drama Therapy is used to help people:


  • Express their feelings

  • Tell their story

  • Act out/work out issues and problems

  • Relive their symptoms

  • Achieve emotional and physical integration

  • Experience catharsis

  • Expand their depth of inner experiences

  • Boost their self-confidence

  • Improve their self-esteem

  • Increase their sense of play and spontaneity

  • Develop trust

  • Work out relationship issues

  • Improve their interpersonal/social skills

  • Strengthen or expand their personal life roles

  • Increase their mental and emotional flexibility 

Additional Resources:


North American Drama Therapy Association- 



International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People




For further information about Disastershock or joining the Disastershock Global Response Team, please email us:   

Dr. Brian Gerrard gerrardb@usfca.edu | Dr. Sue Linville Shaffer drsueshaffer@gmail.com.

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