The Use of Drama Therapy to Create Safety in Psychoeducational Groups for Complex Trauma: The Development of a Method Using Ritual, Embodied Metaphor and Play
Date of Award
MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies
In this research, I developed a method to bring drama therapy into psychoeducational groups that serve clients who have survived complex trauma. Through the use of play, metaphor, group ritual, embodiment and laughter, I explored the use of drama therapy to increase the experience of a group member’s feeling of safety which I perceived in their capacity to take individual risks and to connect with other group members. I facilitated two separate psychoeducational groups that occurred over the course of 12 weeks, incorporating these elements of drama therapy, and reflected upon my experience of these interventions. Throughout the process, I asked “How can drama therapy help in the successful formation of a group to allow members to feel safe enough to do the trauma work and to take risks?” The data was coded around themes of containment and structure, the group member’s perceived experience of fear, varied options for individual participation, and the use of the facilitator as a play object.
The results suggest that the use of drama therapy techniques allowed group members to choose their level of participation, have control of their own degree of sharing, and even opt out without having to completely disengage with the group. The method seemed to allow group members to work at their own pace, engage with others to their own level of comfort, and build a sense of group cohesion through play.
This method may potentially offer other psychoeducational or skills groups a way to support clients’ experience of safety through the experience of group cohesion, the ability to access a higher level of embodiment, and opportunity have fun, which potentially may increase their participation and engagement.
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Lowry, Sarah M., "The Use of Drama Therapy to Create Safety in Psychoeducational Groups for Complex Trauma: The Development of a Method Using Ritual, Embodied Metaphor and Play" (2018). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 81.
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