So much of Drama Therapy is about integrating the body with the mind and spirit. The body holds trauma and emotions that our mind often works to avoid. By learning to listen to our body’s messages, we can start to process, tolerate, and cope with feelings that can be deeply uncomfortable but necessary for growth. We do this in many ways, often utilizing breath work, movement, storytelling, play or writing.
Often people think that Drama Therapy is about creating a performance or finished product to share. While it can be that, so much of the work is also process oriented. We work through fear, anxiety, pain and shame by practicing different ways of expressing ourselves. The moment is experienced fully and then let go. We process and release, making space for new roles, new narratives, and new goals in our lives.
The work is often small, much smaller than we expect. An exercise that I have been using a lot lately at the Eating Disorders Treatment Facility where I work is the “co-created one sentence story.” We go around the group circle with each person contributing a sentence to a story. Sometimes we start with a theme, but often we allow the story to unfold organically informed by the dialogue or check in before it. This game is one that children might play in summer camp, but used in a treatment setting, it can go very deep. There is a beauty in crafting a story together in the moment. The group must allow each individual to take control of the narrative and also trust that the individual will carry the group’s momentum. Each individual must also be open to letting go of the need to plan out what they are going to say. When given time, space, and depth, the exercise can delight, surprise, and connect people to their individual bodies and to the group as a whole. It is a practice in true mindfulness and creativity. We always start and end with a collective breath.
Maybe you’d like to try it sometime. It can be as silly or serious as you would like, but the shared experience of creating something together is always powerful.