What is Drama Therapy?

Drama Therapy

What does Drama Therapy look like …


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Some days I am relaxing in a fairy house.  It is a safe space that my client has built, and we’ve made it real in my office.  Together we hear the breeze, see the colors, and smell the autumn scents.  She takes a leaf with her to remind her that she can come back here in her mind anytime.


Another day, a young man makes a painting of his inner critic.  It is a swirling jagged creature that wears a top-hat. We write down its predictable script of lies and “what-ifs.” To fight this creature, we throw things at it.  We argue against its lies. We explore what feeds it and ultimately what starves it. When my client leaves, he has kicked the creature under the couch.  Throughout the week, when he hears those same lies and what-ifs in his mind, he remembers that the creature is still cowering under my couch.  This week it holds a little less power over him.


Some days we create bubbles for boundaries.  Other days we throw things in the “Fu*k it bucket.”  My clients become therapists, giving themselves the advice they need to hear.  They become teachers, cops, superheroes, or their own parents. We bury the past in the woods.  We walk the stepping stones through their lives, remembering who they were, and imagining what they will be in the future.


What exactly is Drama Therapy?


Drama Therapy is about creating a space of possibility. It is an active laboratory to practice skills, gain insight, discover new abilities, and even learn to play. It accesses our strengths and helps us awaken our imagination.  After all, if we can’t imagine new possibilities, how can we reach them?


It is a process that goes beyond talk and into action.  Symptoms, trauma, and our self-stories are more than just thoughts in our head.  They are in our bodies, our emotions, and our memories. Even something as simple as sitting on the floor instead of a chair can change the way we think and feel.


In my practice, some of the tools I use include:

Images used with permission

Improv Games


Mask Making

Exploration of Roles that we Play

Role Plays

Story telling

Imaginative Play

Projective Play





This is not an exhaustive list! I practice Drama Therapy with couples, families, adults, children, groups. I even use Drama Therapy and other creative arts therapies in my online practice.  The tools of Drama Therapy are also ideal for trainings and workshops.  It is the ultimate “learning by doing” tool.



Who gets to call themselves a Drama Therapist?


In North America, a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) is someone who has gone through rigorous, master’s level training in psychology and drama therapy theory and techniques.  This is followed by hours of practice under supervision. Only then is a person eligible for an RDT credential from the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA). Since 1979, the NADTA has upheld rigorous standards of professional competence for drama therapists. The entire process generally takes several years of training and experience. We take this credentialing process seriously because we know that our tools are powerful, and we do not wish to open doors before we are prepared to encounter what’s inside.

Where is drama therapy used?


Drama Therapy is both old and new.   It draws from the catharsis of ancient greek theater, the timeless quality of Shakespeare, the revolutionary work of Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed and Jacob Moreno’s Psychodrama developed in the early days of modern psychology. Today, Drama Therapists practice on almost every continent. They work with virtually every population and life situation. 


You can find us in:

Mental Health Clinics


Hospital Medical Units

Hospital Mental Health Units

Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Adult Day Treatment Facilities

Correctional Facilities- Adult and Juvenile

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



To learn more:

Drama Therapy
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

See this article in medical news today:


Learn more about the North America Drama Therapy Association




More questions?  Contact me or leave a message below!






© H. Dreme McLennan and Healing Arts Counseling Center, LLC, 2019.

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