Drama Therapy: When “Acting Out” Is a Good Thing

Drama students regarding the camera
Catharsis is an ancient Greek term primarily used to refer to the way we can purge our emotions through drama.

Today, we’ve expanded on this idea, using drama therapy to connect with our emotions, process and express them and thereby find healing.

Now, drama therapy may sound like a foreign concept, but you’ve probably participated in it at some point yourself. Have you ever had to role play in group therapy? Have you ever been asked to express yourself physically without words? Drama therapy includes all of this and more.

Drama Therapy Allows a Slight Removal from the Norm

In drama, we’re asked to playact, exaggerate, and behave in ways that don’t feel characteristic of ourselves. We break through everyday barriers to express and examine problems in new and creative ways. This can shake up counseling patterns that have stalled, and break down walls that we even didn’t realize were there.

We might have trouble expressing our own anger, but when asked to express the anger of someone else, we can tap into our own feelings and express it without the personal taboo that we usually experience. Drama therapy gives us just enough distance to consider our choices and their consequences, without feeling overwhelmed or defensive.

Often, drama therapy can allow us to experience and express things symbolically. For example, expressing the concept of “depression” in a sculpture, silent and motionless, will help patients think deeper about the feeling and cut past all the assumptions that we have about it to the truth that they feel.

Drama Forces Us to Tap into Honesty

Somehow, when playacting something that’s completely fictional, we can often become more honest than ever before. Drama can be powerful because it forces us to physically connect with ourselves, to find something true and authentic inside of us and bring it out. When hiding or coping with an addiction, we build an arsenal of deceits and defenses. Drama can strip away those barriers and force us to express our truest selves, and catch our impulsive responses.

Drama Allows Us to Practice Healthier Habits

Drama therapy can be especially useful for patients recovering from addiction because it allows us to practice hypothetical situations that will help us be successful in our recovery. This might include having better interactions with important people in our lives. It might include reaching for healthier ways to deal with problems and stress in our lives. It might include resisting temptations when they arise. It can also include expressing our feelings in a more healthy and effective way.

Drama therapy can also be so powerful because it gets to the nub of an issue fast. It can be very intensive, or more removed and safe-feeling. Drama therapy is just another example of the many ways that we can enable healing and recovery through creative techniques. Wherever you are in your journey of recovery, answers are out there to help you achieve your goals.