This is an assignment paper on drama as a form of psychotherapy among children with special needs.This paper discuss the history of drama therapy,steps,techniques and strategies involved in the therapy, role of a therapist, benefits to the general population and benefits to the particular group in this case children with autism.This paper also contains a personal reflection of the benefits of a drama therapy among children with autism.
Keywords; drama therapy,strategies,therapist,benefits from the therapy,special needs children
Drama Therapy practice was believed to be existed in ancient Greece in a different name .
This fact is mentioned in the novel Drama Therapy As A Living by Phil Jones .Aristottile the great philosopher and teacher born in the first quarter of the fourth century, became the important advocate of Greek drama.He was one of the most important influences in all the history of literature. He studied the plays of the fifth century and those of his own time, classified the kinds of drama, and laid down rules for the construction of tragical experiences.
First documentation of this therapy in the U S is done by Florsheim on behalf of American Occupational Therapy Association.Drama therapy was first introduced as a therapeutic approach called psychodrama by psychiatrist Jacob Moreno. Moreno was born in 1889 in Romania and in 1925, he moved to New York City, where he practiced psychiatry and experimented with some of his odd and innovative ideas. Moreno’s psychodrama technique called drama therapy was born.
In the 1960s, l Brazilian theater director, Augusto Boal, was working on the concept of community theater, from which “the theater of the oppressed’ emerged.People soon realized that drama facilitates the expression of difficult emotions and provides psychological distance from the trauma or suffering that a participant is working through..
While psychodrama focuses on the person the protagonist ,in drama therapy Psychodrama was , an idea that went against the grain of current psychological practices, because it is focused on the present rather than the past.In 1979 The North American Drama Therapy Association was established followed by the formation of dance therapy and art therapy associations.This gave drama therapy its recognition a as a specialized therapy.Principles of drama therapy;The word Therapy is derived from the Greek word heal or in other words to care.The word Psychomeans soul.Therefore psychotherapy means soul-healing. William Shakespear wrote the famous lines The world is a stage.
In that sense ,all personality traits in human beings contributes to the melodrama of nature.Using Drama techniques bring out the positives in human nature suppressing the negativity. This therapy has significant important in people with depression ,addiction, criminal records ,intellectual disability and in our context children with special needs.The principle involved in drama therapy is the use of creative drama towards personal growth,emotional intelligence and physical integration.Drama therapy broadly includes any form of therapeutic use of role-playing. However, the term drama therapy is best used for those approaches which stress the appreciation of creative theatre as a medium for self-expression and playful group interaction and which base their techniques on improvisation and theatre exercises. Drama therapy helps people struggling with addiction,,anxiety,depression, eating disorders,low self confidence,relationship issues,schizophrenia, and traumatic experiences. Some famous books on drama therapy are Drama As Therapy by Phil Jones, Child Drama by Peter Slade, Persona And Performance by Robert J.Landy, Expressive Therapies by Maclhiodi ,Kathy. There and hundreds of research studies and books published on therapeutic approach of drama over the last 50 years.
Most important activity in drama is role play in which you act the part of a character in a particular situation.This act may bring out some emotions to surface.
This involves making up a scenario and dialogue on the spot.This technique may require working with other people and makes you think for yourself.
This is acting out without speech.This means you have to rely on your body language and expressions to portray an emotion or scenario. Mime act may cause you to think and express your feelings in a different way.Mime goes way back to ancient Greece where hey use facial expressions.
Speech used in drama when you have the self confidence to deliver dialogue.When self esteem is low and in non verbal participants shouting out is also used.Talk therapy itself is sort of storytelling, in which the client composes, changes, and refocuses his or her own stories with the therapist as the audience. The simple process of telling your story can bring a surprising sense of catharsis and bring out a new understanding of yourself and your experiences.
You express emotions through your bodily movements rather than speaking.Dancing can be done as a part of drama therapy.
Re-enact some situations or behaviour in the past will help you learn to do things in a different ways in future.
Properties like face masks and puppets are important tools in drama therapy.Especially children with special needs greatly benefit from the props.Wearing a mask can help participants feel safer and more secure.This give them another way to express themselves and share their feelings in a non verbal manner.
Basic characteristic of a drama therapist must be patience, understanding and proper training.They should have the passion to help others to bring out their feelings and emotions.These therapists create channels of communication through performance,mime story telling etc.They provide a safe environment for the clients struggling with a range of emotions, social or personal difficulties.Responsibilities of a drama therapist Support and encourage clients through using therapeutic techniques such as story telling, acting out, play rituals,improvisation ,mime etcTherapist initiates to explore the clients self worth ,feelings and relationships.Supervise the clients in a playful yet positive way Write reports on clients progress.Take referral from other professionals.Help clients to try out new ways of thinking and behaviour. The role of therapist on healing clients through art is highly acclaimed.They get to act,they get to play and meantime they are helping to heal clients with their difficult experiences.
A Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) must have a Master’s degree capability with a coursework in psychology and dramatization treatment, involvement in theater , temporary job and work understanding. These enrolled specialists are board affirmed in the act of drama therapy treatment and pursue the NADTA Code of Ethics. The enlisted drama specialization is granted by the North American Drama Therapy Association and demonstrates that one needs to meet the instructive prerequisites and ought to have the capability in the act of drama treatment.
The goal of drama therapy is the relief from suffering in general population.Main group of people benefit from drama therapy are the following People with mental health issues such as schizophrenia including both children and adults.Adolescents with emotional and social problems or post traumatic stress.People with autism and other learning disabilities.Older people with dementia and depression.Convicts ,offenders or people with criminal records.People with physical or neurological disabilities.Children with terminal illnesses in their last stage.People who are at the end stage of life.Aside from attaining larger goals ,drama therapy benefits participants by giving opportunity to express their feelings,tell their life story,workout issues,achieve emotional and physical enhancement,experience catharsis,boost self confidence,workout relationship issues and improve interpersonal skills.
Prisons and schools across the world benefit from therapeutic drama techniques.In prisons inmates can act out a play with the application of drama therapy techniques proved to be a promising tool for treatment and rehabilitation of these people shunned by society forgotten by outside world.Schools around the world are adding concepts and exercises from drama therapy to their curriculum, or adding dedicated drama therapy programs into extracurricular activities.One of these programs is Diana Feldman’s ENACT method, which appoints specially trained actor into classrooms to interact and engage with the students. Groups of special needs children who can benefit from the therapy;There are 13 categories of special needs children as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act In order to qualify for special education, the IEP team must determine that a child has one of the following:
The use of drama classes in the curriculum for children with special needs is sometimes automatically equated with drama therapy. Such an assumption may arise from the mistaken thought that if a child has some kind of learning disability, the only type of drama of any benefit for them must be designed to help them with their particular individual need. Drama therapy, is a developing technique to the treatment and education of special groups based on the work of J.L. Moreno.Some children with special needs might benefit from the approach, it is not to be assumed that every child needs drama therapy .Monitored work in drama therapy is therapeutic’.
Individual get a greater sense of accomplishment in the activity, being focused upon ,resulting in heightened self worth. Provided that drama is a social art form, active engagement in dramatic activity can result in positive social outcomes like sense of belonging to a group. A major problem encountered in any discussion concerning special needs is that of terminology. By categorising young people under the heading of special needs’ we are in danger of implying that they are in some way similar, whereas, in truth, the specificity of their needs may make them a wildly disparate group or individuals, and that their needs are grounded in some deficit on the part of the individual, rather than resting in the educational system . Most usually, this occurs as a result of one, or a complex combination of any of the following:
It is worth noting here however that special educational needs (SEN) and special needs are not interchangeable terms. Special needs may be arise in children in a similar socio ,cultural or linguistic context. A recently relocated child for whom similar socio ,cultural or linguistic context. A recently relocated child ,for whom English as an extra language but whose physical and mental capabilities are in noway impaired to be considered to have a special need. Special needs are very distinct from the individual experiences of learning difficulties.Theatre Therapy for those with special needs, increasing their comfort level ,where theatre therapy provides opportunities to learn , to grow not only in speaking larger groups, but also improving life enhancing skill sets as well. Involvement in theatre, into a such a creative and dynamic learning platform or environment strengthens life and social skills. By engaging in a unique and fun new experiences, which is itself a excellent form of exercise and self-expression; nearly all areas of life are positively impacted.
Children with autismCindy Schneider who is a pioneer in the field of drama therapy for people with autism, she is the author of Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach in Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with various intellectual disabilities .Her classes in theater and movement are available to kids and adults of all ages, with a wide range of diagnoses including autism spectrum disorder, social communication disorder and ADHD. According to Cindy, participants may gain;self-confidence not only in performing but in interactions ,improved self-esteem; pride in their accomplishments, improved recognition of emotions in others ,improved identification and labeling of own emotions new leisure activity in a group where they can be successful ,new awareness of volume levels and modulation, new skills for functioning as part of a group, new skills for following directions, improved ability to interact with peers ,and increased self-confidence through successDrama therapy is helpful in neurotypical students. It is also applicable for those on the autism spectrum disorder. The use of acting, role playing, movement and body language, and focus on learning how to interact and interpret the communications of others makes it a great fit for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
A recent study in the Drama therapy explored the effects of drama therapy sessions on children and young people with ASD, and found to benefit five broader themes:Dramatherapy sessions gave participants a safe place to explore their feelings.Participants felt included and they made friends with their peers in these sessions.Role playing provided participants with a short cut to learning and practicing social skills.The predictability and structure of the these sessions encouraged participants feel less anxious.
The positive outcomes from drama therapy sessions benefited through the entire family and support system Participants in drama therapy and drama programs
Autistic people who also have complex needs and are non-verbal benefits from drama therapyWithout formal language, an alternative channel for communication is sought, so the client and therapist can truly be alongside each other. Research uncovered thirty different creative interventions offered to autistic people, including appropriate touch, movement, recorded music, holding, objects, voice, mirroring, song and percussion.When someone has no spoken language, movement can be important for communicating thoughts and feelings.