Επίνειο - Dramatherapy - δραματοθεραπεία

And if I speak to you with fairy tales and parables
is because you hear it sweeter,
and the horror is not chatted because it is alive
because it is speechless
and moves on.
             "Last station" G. Seferis

Drama therapy, as its name suggests, is a psychotherapeutic method, whose main goal is to utilize the therapeutic side of theater during the psychotherapeutic process. It is an experiential method that promotes creativity, imagination, knowledge, inner search and evolution.

Drama and Movement Therapy

Sesame is a mythopoetic approach in dramatherapy, named after the story of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", in which the password "Open Sesame!" unlocks the entrance of a cave, revealing the treasures hidden within it. Following the symbolism of the story, Drama and Movement Therapy can be perceived as the key unlocking one's psyche and allowing access to its unseen riches.

The "Sesame" method is a holistic approach to dramatherapy which which includes the enactment of myth and story, the therapeutic use of Rudolf Laban's analysis of movement, Billy Lindkvist work with movement with touch and sound and Peter Slade’s Child Drama theory. The central theoretical frame is analytical psychology and the work of Carl Jung.

The sessions always have a specific structure, which include confidence exercises, games that introduce the members to the individual topics to be worked on, mainly theme (myths, enactment, use of voice and musical instruments, painting, music, etc.) and grounding exercises. 

Through role playing, but also the promotion of different forms and ways of moving, the participants in the sessions are given the opportunity to experiment with alternative ways of behaving and dealing with life situations. In a non-confrontational psychotherapeutic context, based on the knowledge that difficulties can be revealed through metaphorical concepts, team members have the opportunity to relive their personal experiences and experiment in search of new solutions and possibilities. Through the security provided by the use of the arts, they can express all kinds of feelings and thoughts, in order to develop their self-confidence, to get to know themselves in depth but also to facilitate their relationships with the other people.

Historical background of dramatherapy

Dramatherapy has its roots in the healing ceremonies that took place in various societies in antiquity. The relationship between drama and healing was first recognized by Aristotle, who also coined the term purification. However, the systematic use of theater as a means of treatment in Europe began in the 19th century with the writing of articles on the therapeutic function of cleansing and the creation of theaters in psychiatric hospitals in Germany and France.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian psychiatrist Vladimir Iljin used Stanislavsky's theatrical techniques with psychiatric patients to create the 'therapeutic theater'. At the same time, Nikolai Evreinov developed "Theatrical Therapy", in which he promoted the internal search, but without emphasizing the uploading of a theatrical performance. In 1920 in Vienna Jacob Moreno started Psychodrama, which is also based on theatrical improvisation. In the 1940s, Peter Slade referred to the healing power of theater through his book Child Drama. In the years that followed, Gestalt (Fritz Pearls) and Interactive Analysis (Eric Berne) therapists focused on role-playing during the healing process.

One of the first training programs in Drama Therapy was Sesame, which was started by Marian Lindkvist in 1964 at the York Clinic. She had a dream in which the inmates of a psychiatric clinic were connected to each other through drama and movement, "… There was a sense of closeness, a form of transcendence…".

In which populations can dramatherapy be applied effectively

Dramatherapy can work therapeutically in an individual or group context, with adults, children and adolescents:

  • with learning difficulties
  • with learning disorders
  • in the autistic spectrum
  • with emotional or behavioural difficulties
  • with hearing, vision or other sensory impairments
  • with physical disabilities
  • with psychiatric patients
  • with depression or other mood disorders
  • with people with substance abuse problems
  • with eating disorders
  • with AIDS or HIV
  • incarcerated in penitentiaries

However, it can also be used as a method for inner search for the self-sufficient spiritual development of a person.