What Is Drama Therapy?
The following is from the North American Drama Therapy Association website nadta.org. Drama therapy is the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals.
What Is Drama Therapy?
Drama therapy is an embodied practice that is active and experiential. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis. Through drama, the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced.
What is a Drama Therapist?
A Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) is certified in the practice of drama therapy, and follows the NADTA Code of Ethics, and adheres to the NADTA Scope of Practice.
The educational requirements for the RDT involve: A master’s or doctoral degree in drama therapy from a program accredited by the North American Drama Therapy Association OR a master’s or doctoral degree in theater or a mental health profession with additional in-depth training in drama therapy through NADTA’s alternative training program. Board Certified Trainers/Registered Drama Therapists (RDT/BCT) train and supervise students in this alternative training program. Drama therapy education includes coursework in psychology and drama therapy, experience in theater, and supervised internship and work experience.
How does Drama Therapy work?
Drama therapy uses play, embodiment, projection, role, story, metaphor, empathy, distancing, witnessing, performance, and improvisation to help people make meaningful change.
A drama therapist first assesses a client’s needs and then considers approaches that might best meet those needs. Drama therapy can take many forms depending on individual and group needs, skill and ability levels, interests, and therapeutic goals. Processes and techniques may include improvisations, theater games, storytelling, and enactment. Many drama therapists make use of text, performance, or ritual to enrich the therapeutic and creative process. The theoretical foundation of drama therapy lies in drama, theater, psychology, psychotherapy, anthropology, play, and interactive and creative processes.
Who can benefit from Drama Therapy?
Drama therapy is for everyone across the lifespan. You do not have to be “good” at acting to benefit from drama therapy!
Client populations may include persons recovering from addiction, dysfunctional families, developmentally disabled persons, abuse survivors, prison inmates, homeless persons, people with AIDS, older adults, behavioral health consumers, at-risk youth, and the general public.
Drama therapists work in a variety of mental health and community settings. Below are some possible examples of locations where drama therapists can be found:
- Mental Health Clinics
- Hospital Medical Units
- Hospital Mental Health Units
- Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
- Adult Day Treatment Facilities
- Correctional Facilities
- Community Centers
- After School Programs
- Programs for Older Adults
- College Counseling Centers
- Programs for Persons with Disabilities
- Programs for Refugees and Immigrants
- Residential Facilities
- Nursing Homes
- Private Practice Settings
- Housing Projects
- Medical Schools
- Training Organizations
What are the outcomes?
- Drama therapy is beneficial for individuals, families, and communities struggling with transition, loss, social stigmatization, isolation, and conflict. It is an effective option for the treatment and prevention of anxiety, depression, and addiction, among other conditions. Drama therapy can promote positive changes in mood, insight, and empathy, and it can facilitates healthy relationships.
We invite you to learn more about Drama Therapy Research and the Drama Therapy Review.
What is the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)?
- The North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) was incorporated in 1979 to establish and uphold rigorous standards of professional competence for drama therapists. The organization maintains requirements that must be met to qualify as a registered drama therapist (RDT). NADTA promotes drama therapy through information and advocacy.
- As a member organization of the National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations (NCCATA), the NADTA is aligned with professionals in the fields of art, music, dance, and poetry therapies, as well as group psychotherapy and psychodrama.
Learn More About Me...
Hi! My name is Michelle Foster. I am a heart-centered registered drama therapist and psychotherapist and the founder of Light Within Creative Healing Arts.
My Drama Therapy journey began during my undergraduate years while working with at-risk youth finding their authentic voice utilizing theater techniques. Being a theater major, I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to utilize my training in a way to make classical theater such as Shakespeare accessible by presenting the material in a very informal way to engage and work through their resistance.
Most of the students I assessed had never been exposed to much theater but were full of personality and eager to get into the work. “You see, Shakespeare was one of the first rappers back in the day. He worked with beats and made material work for the people,” was how I sold the Bard of Avon to the students.
I was able to guide them into finding their own creative voice. Each session I met with the students, I was able to provide a platform to validate their voices while challenging their limiting self-beliefs in order to be seen and heard. In turn from that experience, I felt validated as an artist with the ability to create transformative experiences for others.
The shift into drama therapy
My experience working with the group of Upward Bound students created a shift from wanting to exclusively be a professional theater artist to eventually mesh my artistry and desire to help others find their voice to becoming a registered drama therapist. My curiosity as a drama therapist has created opportunities for me to engage with various groups and individuals helping them find their unique voice. We journey from challenging self-defeating narratives to replacing them with self-affirming ones. Because of my personal exploration, I am confident I can guide the individual to discover and embrace their authentic self.
Qualifications to be your guide
I earned my graduate degree in drama therapy from Nova Southeastern University while completing over the necessary clinical hours to meet the requirements to become a registered drama therapist. I have worked in the private and public sectors of mental health. In addition, I have worked in educational settings facilitating drama therapy workshops. I have completed post-graduated trainings in psychodrama, narrative therapy, trauma-informed interventions, role-theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology, mindfulness-based stress relief, autobiographical therapeutic performance, playback.
I continue to enroll in ongoing trainings to give me a working knowledge to best serve my clients. I actively participate in improvisation and theatrical performances to keep me engaged as an artist. I have a self-care practice which includes some of the following, yoga, laughing, art, spending quality time with loved ones, preparing good meals, early morning walks with my dog. I strongly believe that when I am able to meet my needs through self-care, I am able to best serve others.
Let me be your guide
I can take the individual from existing in a place that no longer serves them to exploring their unique journey that is waiting to be experienced! For groups, we will engage in a collective healing model that is supportive yet fun. Let’s embark on your journey to your authentic self!
Being Seen and Heard with Michelle Foster
Spencer V. ~Florida
“My time spent under Michelle’s drama/music therapy guidance was that of which the most beneficial to my recovery. Vivid pastel like colored guided meditations that really put me into an open state of exploring my inner child’s wandering, my creativity, and developing a catharsis that allowed me to face the traumas I wanted to keep hidden. It allowed me to embellish on a vice that was blocked for some time which was poetry.
Somehow expressing through, poems, playing a song of my choice and explaining how it related to me- made facing my demons easier. Finding commonalities between one artists songs and my own feelings brought a sense of empathy and feeling understood and less alone. Writing a poem that was slightly encrypted but nonetheless true to me allowed me to inch out of my shell rather than being pulled. But it was through her encouragement and methodology that I found a therapy well suited for me.”
Amanda D. ~Maine
“I met Michelle at an inpatient facility that I was in. She was always so bright and happy when I saw her. She is one of the least judgmental people I’ve ever worked with. I had zero interest in drama therapy, for the first few days I just watched. She eventually helped me step out of my comfort zone to participate, and I wish I would’ve jumped in right away.”
Laura B., ~Florida
“I’ve had the honor of working alongside Michelle for almost 2 years! Michelle will always have a special place in my heart as the energy she vibrates is like no other! Michelle has impacted so many lives, not just the clients we work with but also her colleagues. Her bright smile, kindness and positive attitude is contagious! Michelle’s passion for drama-therapy and helping others is evident by her daily interactions. I count myself extremely lucky to have Michelle as a former colleague and a close friend!”
Alicia G., ~Florida
“In my session with Michelle, we worked on some anxiety that popped up–it was scary and unexpected. Michelle made me feel comfortable immediately, and, throughout our session, I could tell that she was really listening, even though we weren’t in person. Our session was not only helpful, but really fun. Tapping into my creativity helped me bring down my inhibitions, get honest with myself, and just be in the moment I was in.”
Gaby F., ~Florida
“Michelle is not only an exceptional therapist, she is a loving and compassionate human being. Her big smile, easy going techniques and wonderful sense of humor made me feel comfortable, heard and safe during our session. She was truly born to shine her beautiful light!”