Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Angelle Cook


Adolescents who have experienced trauma may develop a neutral state, which they use to shield themselves from the trauma so they can perform daily life tasks. Though it is acknowledged in the literature that trauma lives in the body, adolescent survivors of trauma may often stay in this neutral state until they seek mental health services. This thesis asks: How can drama therapy’s core processes, such as embodiment, widen the window of tolerance of an adolescent who has experienced trauma to begin to feel emotions beyond the neutral state and become open to new roles? The method that I have developed gives the client an element of choice in the storytelling process from the construction of a character through their entire experience of that character. After implementation of the intervention, with three adolescent clients over three 60-minute sessions, promising results indicate that using distancing and embodiment allows the participants to slowly begin to experience emotions and roles that they have previously denied. Ultimately, the implementation of the intervention should be used with the clients’ needs in mind balancing distance, choice, and flexibility to meet them where they are.

Keywords: drama therapy, embodiment, storytelling, window of tolerance, trauma, adolescents, core processes

Author Identity Statement: I acknowledge my experiences as a straight white, middle-class female clinician from the south, specifically Texas, I also acknowledge that I have experienced a similar trauma in my own life. When developing and implementing this method, I was acutely aware of my own bias and deeply considered the varied needs of my clients and where my clients were in their healing process.

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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