Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Second Advisor

Kelvin Ramirez

Third Advisor

Cecilia Dintino


The aim of this study was to assess the effects of therapeutic theatre, a method of drama therapy, on resilience among adolescents at risk of high school dropout. A mixed method approach was employed to qualitatively examine participant perspectives on resilience and quantitatively measure change in resilience. Participants engaged in weekly after-school drama therapy groups to collaborate on developing themes and a script for a performance to be witnessed by an audience of family and community members. Qualitative and quantitative findings were triangulated and embedded to examine relationships. The Behavioral Assessment System for Children Second Edition (BASC-2) and Resilience Scale (RS) were administered pre- and post-intervention over a 12-week period with students in an urban high school students (N = 6) to assess if participants were at-risk of negative outcomes, emotionally or behaviorally, by measuring different domains specific to areas of functioning including academic, emotional, and personal adjustment. Higher scores on the RS indicated greater resilience. Qualitative interviews conducted pre and post intervention examined participant perceptions of resilience by identifying protective and risk factors, and identifying their experiences of therapeutic theatre. Qualitative findings produced themes based on participants’ values, attitudes, and beliefs. Post-intervention themes revealed participants had a greater sense of optimism, positive risk-taking, continued engagement in school, better self-control of negative emotions, and felt empowered to stand up for social issues including school programming. Quantitative findings in the BASC-2 found participants had a more positive attitude toward school, anxiety and depression symptoms remained manageable and did not worsen, and personal adjustment scores decreased including self-esteem and self-reliance. There was no change in scores on the RS; participants still scored in the low to moderate range after the group. Embedding of data sets showed correspondence between qualitative themes and academic problems, internalized problems, and self-reliance, personal adjustment composite scales from the BASC-2.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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