Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Jason S. Frydman, PhD, RDT/BCT, NCSP


Nurses experience a higher-than-average risk of suicidal ideation and are less likely to seek help than the general population. In addition, nurses have a higher rate of interpersonal violence, hypertension, diabetes, musculoskeletal injury, and obesity. Many nurses experience burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. Because of the required exposure to grief, death, and compassion inherently needed in the profession, hospice and palliative care (HPC) nurses are uniquely positioned for special vulnerability to these issues. This literature review aims to examine the use of drama therapy, and how its techniques could be used to support self-care with HPC nurses. Literature was explored to better understand the HPC nursing profession, the state of the occupation, definitions and effects of burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma, causes and history of each, as well as the concept of self-care for these caregivers. Prior studies of therapeutic interventions that have been used to support HPC nurses in their self-care were explored, including some prior expressive arts therapies programs. Drawing from the literature, which points to the inherently embodied nature of the HPC nursing profession, this writer explores drama therapy and its core processes as potentially effective in offering support to reduce burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. Based on the writer’s experience, and parallels made in the literature, a short form of developmental transformations and the co-active therapeutic theatre model, two drama therapy methods, are explored and suggested for future implementation. Arts-based reflections and resources are provided.

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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