Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Tim Reagan


Due to the complex etiology and treatment challenges of eating disorders, researchers continue to explore multidisciplinary, experiential approaches that target the experiential avoidance and psychological inflexibility that are often at the heart of the disorders’ resistant nature. With flexibility woven into its core processes, drama therapy is an embodied and relational approach that is emerging as an effective treatment modality for this population. This project illustrates ways drama therapy can widen the windows of tolerance for clients locked in the rigidity of an eating disorder. A group therapy method which flips the traditional developmental progression of drama therapy interventions is implemented with clients aged 17 – 23 at a partial hospitalization program of an eating disorder center located in the Midwest. In addition to detailing the role, projection, and embodiment interventions used with clients, this paper also describes how the process impacted the author’s own flexibility, personally and professionally. Observations of the inquiry were recorded and reflected upon via journaling, group notes, supervision, and art-making. Results indicate that while clients’ windows of tolerance are affected by a range of factors, drama therapy interventions, when supported by the creation of a safe-enough, dramatic play space, show promise in increasing clients’ flexibility and treatment engagement. While this study is limited in depth and scope, the results lend additional support to the value and benefit of using drama therapy with this population. Further study is needed to encourage full incorporation of drama therapy into mainstream eating disorder treatment practices.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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