Date of Award
MA - Master of Arts
Witnessing is a core concept of the therapeutic process of drama therapy (Jones, 2007; Johnson, 2009, Sajnani & Johnson, 2014). Major perspectives on witnessing were gleamed from the broader drama therapy literature, including the roles of the audience, therapist, group, techniques, and the self as witnesses within the therapeutic atmosphere. Within one form of drama therapy, Developmental Transformations (DvT), the witnessing circle is used as a tool to highlight and enhance what is being witnessed in the session (Johnson 1991, 1992, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014; Dintino et al., 1996; Mayor, 2010, 2018). This literature review analyzed the limited DvT writing and finds that the witnessing circle is currently being used to play with power dynamics within relationships, to amplify themes of abandonment and loss, and to notice an individual’s natural reaction to distress (Dintino et al., 1996; Johnson, 2009; Mayor, 2010, 2018). A self-reflective arts-based research process of taking photos was used to witness and honor myself as the researcher, and to provide additional analysis to the existing literature. A critique is offered about the limited explanation of how the witnessing circle was developed and its role in DvT. Further, the review finds a lack of empirical research on witnessing in DvT, particularly from the perspectives of clients, and a marked lack of structure for when and how to most effectively use the witnessing circle. Recommendations are made for future research into this therapeutic tool.
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O'Connor, Chelsey, "I Will Circle Back: A Literature Review of Witnessing in Developmental Transformations" (2019). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 231.
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