What is Drama Therapy?


Many people often avoid therapy or seeking treatment for addiction because they associate it with boring, long, and uncomfortable sessions to help work out the underlying issues at play. However, modern addiction treatment involves a number of treatment approaches and strategies that are fun and creative ways to find healing. One such method used across treatment centers in the United States is drama therapy. Drama therapy helps bring out your authentic self and convey underlying thoughts and feelings in a controlled, safe space. Understanding drama therapy and how it is used in addiction recovery can help you make an informed decision about using it in your own treatment journey.

Explaining Drama Therapy

Drama therapy utilizes storytelling, performance, purposeful improvisation, and projective play to help resolve stress and build character in those struggling with mental health and addiction. It was initially created by psychiatrist Jacob Moreno in the early 20th century, who observed the ways in which theater helped people better express their inner thoughts and feelings. Today, the therapeutic approach is used methodically by trained drama therapists and psychiatrists to help patients overcome underlying emotional and mental issues that impact mental health and addiction.

Drama therapy is especially helpful for those that don’t benefit from traditional talk therapies. This is because drama therapy offers a safe space to act out certain feelings, obtain different perspectives, and strengthen interpersonal communication. Talking to a therapist one on one can be overwhelming, so drama therapy can be a good alternative for those that thrive in group settings or have difficulty explaining their inner thoughts and feelings.

How Does It Work?

Unlike psychodrama — which focuses on patients’ real-life experiences — drama therapy allows participants to explore more fictional stories such as improvised scenes, myths, and fairytales. It is meant to help individuals be more imaginative and expressive in the healing process. A psychiatrist or trained drama therapist will run sessions with the idea of providing a safe and secure space that allows for full expression.

There are objectives in place while drama therapy occurs that patients are expected to reach throughout the various sessions. These objectives are:

  • Reaching personal growth
  • Becoming more self-aware
  • Improving interpersonal relationships
  • Increasing positive behavioral changes
  • Understanding physical and emotional well being
  • Improve overall quality of life

During each session, the psychiatrist or drama therapist will set the scene using a topic that will help the participants facilitate healing, personal growth, and find deeper meaning. As the scene is acted out, the psychiatrist or drama therapist may pause to ask questions or head a discussion after the scene ends. Sometimes, the facilitator will have a participant act out a fictional character’s emotions, helping them connect with that particular feeling. Doing this will help participants better understand the purpose of the session, be more comfortable with certain emotions, and boost their overall recovery.

How Does Drama Therapy Help Addiction?

Drama therapy helps to provide a safe space for creative and imaginative expression for those currently in recovery from addiction and mental health issues. Underlying, deeper issues are addressed during each session and scene as facilitated by a psychiatrist or drama therapist. This aspect of drama therapy helps individuals discuss difficult subjects with more ease than they perhaps would have during a traditional talk therapy session.

Many individuals that struggle with addiction often have difficulties describing past traumatic memories due to the intensity of the emotions. When facilitators have participants connect with certain emotions throughout the sessions, it can help individuals improve their relationship with certain, often negative, emotions. It also helps shed new light on previously distressing situations, allowing the person to see the situation from a different point of view. When individuals connect to their emotions in drama therapy, it can help them better understand what happened and help remove the traumatic memories from the experience to help them move forward.

Is Drama Therapy Right For Me?

Drama therapy is beneficial for those that find healing within creative expression. Also, those that don’t benefit from traditional talk therapies are good candidates for drama therapy. These people may respond well to drama therapy because it addresses underlying issues in a more entertaining and creative way. Participants can find healing within themselves as they take on the roles of various characters and apply the emotions and traits of those characters to their own lives in recovery.

Even if you benefit from traditional talk therapy, you can still utilize drama therapy in your healing process. Talk to your therapist or treatment facilitator to find out how to get involved with drama therapy and start reaping the benefits today.

Drama therapy is a great alternative method for people that want to boost their overall recovery through a creative and expressive manner. The treatment approach was created with the intent of using acting, improvisation, and the art of theater to help those struggling with mental health issues and addiction. Lakehouse Recovery Center uses drama therapy to help its patients find healing in conjunction with traditional treatment approaches. We believe in using a mixture of traditional and alternative therapies to address all of our patient’s individual recovery needs. Over time, we believe that you will be set up for success in recovery as you learn to tap into your most authentic self. Drama therapy can help you do this, and our facilitators can guide you throughout the process. To learn more about our programs, specifically our virtual IOP during the COVID-19 pandemic, call us today at (877) 762-3707. Find your home at Lakehouse Recovery Center and start healing.