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The Benefits of Drama Therapy

By Aron David

Life is full of both laughter and strife. Like the theatre’s oldest symbol, the two masks, one smiling and one crying, life is also a series of ups and downs. How we deal with each of these moments help us mature as people, as we learn from our mistakes and better understand ourselves.

There are a number of techniques to better identify what makes us happy or sad, and what triggers our inner emotions. One of those techniques is drama therapy. In drama therapy, we play out psychological situations from our past or present. We can also play out future hypothetical scenarios.

Through role playing, we transfer issues that concern us, in order to experientially perceive our Emotion and its expressive potential. This way, we activate the Body, managing to experience our Emotions and not merely describe them with words, which often stem from the Mind.

Drama therapy is one of the most dynamic techniques of expressing Emotion, as it gives the opportunity to play out what we are thinking or something that is troubling us through role playing.

The basic difference with theatre acting is the purpose. The purpose is not to appear like proper actors or be precise and loyal to a text. We are not concerned with perfection or the means of expression. We are concerned with working through the emotions that are born as we play out a situation, without them being suppressed by that role. That is where our truth, and by extension the solution or therapy to the issues that preoccupy us, usually resides.

Seeing as we all play many roles in our daily lives, it can get confusing at times. Which roles do we enjoy, which ones do we reject? Which ones make us feel good and which ones do we carry out just to please others, to avoid confrontation, or because we have to for work or due to societal conventions.

Drama therapy is usually employed by psychologists when helping their patients work through issues, but it is also often used by individuals, artists, students or company HR teams to help “unblock” parts of their mind, body or emotion. Drama therapy inspires us to analyse the roles we are called to play in our daily lives. Through role playing exercises we manage to put ourselves into other people’s position, or even our own position in different situations, and work through the emotions that arise. 

It is worth noting, the difficulty we all sometimes have putting ourselves in roles we find difficult or struggle with. From our professional to our interpersonal life, or our role within our family, we unearth inherent stereotypes that in some cases hinder us from self-realisation.

Using drama therapy, we can work through our own issues, but we can also better understand the roles of others, making us more empathetic or understanding of their situation. At the same time, drama therapy can help us prepare for future situations which might cause un anxiety, such as exams, public speaking, negotiating the terms of a contract, a court hearing or even simple things like having a difficult discussion with a friend, loved one or colleague.

As long as we listen to our inner emotions, a bit of help using techniques like drama therapy can help us feel better within and about ourselves. Ultimately, this makes a world of a difference.

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