Dramatherapy is one of a group of therapies which are called Creative Arts Therapies, along with Music therapy and Art therapy. Today I am going to explore one aspect of Dramatherapy.
We usually come to therapy to talk. Dramatherapy has the capacity to go beyond the talking because it is creative.
Dramatherapy becomes useful in the therapy space when it is used as a way of illustrating the talking which takes place between the client and therapist. This illustration provides another way (a container) for the client to find meaning in their experiences and in their sense of self.
How is this?
Mostly when we seek therapy we expect to be talking. As a dramatherapist I am always alert to opportunities within the talking, opportunities to explore those things for which there are no words-maybe those things that happened to us before we spoke, or those painful experiences, things that we want to actively or unconsciously deny, or perhaps a dream, or an illness. In other words, those things that are not part of our everyday cognitive knowing.
And this is where creativity comes in. When we are creative we are tapping into the right side of our brain which is very different from the left side. Simply speaking the right brain does not have the same rules of logical thought and sequential time. It receives and processes information and experience very differently. For us to be able to connect and communicate with the rich wisdom of the right brain we need to use a medium that represents (re-presents) our experience to us in a different way.
Sand tray is such a medium that can re-present a situation or experience. The placing of objects in the sand tray is intuitive, there is no right or wrong, only personal and individual interpretation.
In my work with a particular client who suffered from chronic anxiety, we explored her early pre-verbal experience as a way of understanding the roots of the anxiety. She made sand trays of her early years showing scenes of confinement, of heaviness, weight and pressure. Over the weeks she interpreted her created scenes to me, her witness. Through this witnessed process she was able to articulate her pain for the first time. As her feelings emerged and as she became more emotionally open her anxiety lessened.
In my experience this precious work continues outside of the therapy room, bringing a richness of new experience and self -understanding. Through this work I see clients growing in self-confidence which I think is born from coming to know the self more fully and profoundly.
Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy is a collective of experienced psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working with a range of client groups, including fellow therapists and health professionals. If you would like more information, or an informal discussion please get in touch with us by telephone or email. Online therapy is available.