Drama Therapy

Drama therapy is a creative alternative to more traditional therapeutic approaches like talk therapy. Learn how Charlie Health’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) uses drama therapy to help some people discover personal growth and healing.

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What is drama therapy?

Drama therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses theater and storytelling techniques to help people resolve conflict, improve their mental health, and foster personal growth. Several methods of drama therapy are:

  • Acting
  • Improvisation 
  • Storytelling
  • Role-playing
  • Puppetry
  • Creative writing exercises
  • Guided visualizations

Drama therapy is practiced in a variety of care settings—including schools, outpatient programs, nursing homes, and substance use treatment centers. Under the guidance of a drama therapist, sessions provide an outlet for people to freely explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment without relying on verbal communication. Drama therapy is based on each person's needs and preferences and the therapist will help identify the right techniques to help that person grow and heal. 

A young woman participates in drama therapy from home

Benefits of drama therapy

Drama therapy is a creative and experiential approach to treatment that is used to help people living with various mental health issues, including behavioral health conditions, substance use disorders, trauma, and relationship problems. It's also said to be effective for those who are homeless, have family conflict, and at-risk youth. 

Some people enjoy drama therapy because it allows them to take control of the narrative of their own life. Individuals are encouraged to really lean into the experience—for example, they can change the details or ending of a painful memory or act out as a learning tool. Overall, it offers people a chance to view their problems from a different perspective. 

Some of the leading benefits of drama therapy are that it helps people to:

  • Set personal goals
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Express how they're feeling
  • Better relate to other people
  • Better understand themself 
  • Feel less isolated 
  • Develop better coping skills
  • Solve problems
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Who should try drama therapy?

Anyone can try drama therapy (no passion for the stage required!), but it has been shown to be a successful component of treatment for the following mental health conditions:

A young woman meets with her drama therapy group on her laptop

Effectiveness of drama therapy

Although the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) established professional standards for drama therapy in 1979, drama therapy is still considered to be a newer therapeutic approach. Data suggests that drama therapy is a successful evidence-based treatment, but researchers continue to examine the benefits as drama therapy grows more popular.

The biggest predictor of success is making sure that you work with a certified drama therapist. A person can earn the Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) credential by attending an accredited NADTA master’s program that offers education and training in psychology, theater, and drama therapy. There’s also an alternative training program for individuals who hold a master’s degree that’s not from a NADTA-approved program.

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Other types of creative therapy

Drama therapy is just one of several forms of creative therapeutic techniques used to help people find happiness, healing, and improved mental wellbeing. Other examples of expressive therapy methods that are part of Charlie Health’s Intensive Outpatient Program include:

  • Art therapy: Art therapy uses non-verbal practices like coloring, collaging, and pottery to strengthen a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health.
  • Music therapy: There are two categories of music therapy that are used to promote healing. Active music therapy consists of things like composing, singing, or playing an instrument, and receptive music therapy focuses on listening or responding to music.
  • Movement therapy:  Dance/movement therapy uses movement to improve overall well being through mental, emotional, physical, and social integration.

Charlie Health is committed to helping teens and young adults overcome their mental health struggles in a safe and supported environment. For some people, drama therapy is an effective alternative or complement to more traditional therapeutic approaches. Reach out today to learn more about drama therapy and our unparalleled, multi-pronged approach to care.

Disorders Treated by

Drama therapy

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Disorders Treated by

Drama therapy

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