Drama Therapy For Mental Health

Drama therapy is a type of art therapy sometimes selected for those suffering from minor to medium levels of depression. When choosing a drama therapist as your chosen therapy specialist it is likely you have many questions about what to expect and have some apprehension, particularly if using a therapy new to you.  We, at Seek a Therapy, want to help answer your questions and concerns surrounding drama therapy in order to help you select the right therapist for you and on this page, we have included some of the most common questions a person may have before treatment.

What is Drama Therapy?


Drama therapy is the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals.


Drama therapy is an active and experiential treatment that provides context for participants to tell their stories, set goals, solve problems or express feelings. Through drama, one’s life experiences and thoughts can be explored and interpersonal relationship skills enhanced. Many people who have used drama therapy tend to find that their own real life roles have been strengthened after undergoing treatment.

What to Expect From Dramatherapy

Each therapy session will be different according to the needs of those taking part. The location at which you will undertake dramatherapy can vary but often you will be undertaking dramatherapy with others and those in your group may well have the same, similar or completely different reasons for being there. The first stage of dramatherapy is for your therapist to understand what it is you want to try and achieve, your goals and hopes from your participation in dramatherapy.

The first job of the dramatherapist is to get to know you and what you are hoping to achieve through therapy. Once the therapist has a better understanding of your expectations and needs, the session can begin.

A typical group dramatherapy session may work like this:

1. Check in – This is to help the drama therapist understand you’re current feelings.

2. Warm-up – A warm-up activity is usually selected to help loosen the muscles, nerves and engages ones imagination. An example of this is where members of the group introduce themselves by stating their name and miming an action that represents how they are feeling.

3. The main activity – This is when the therapist will help the group explore issues through various dramatherapy techniques such as role-play.

4. Closing – At the end of the session the therapist may ask for your input into how you think the session went, or they may de-brief the group to let you know what they believe you’ve achieved from the days session.



Some examples of dramatherapy in action

Dramatherapy can include many different drama strategies including but not limited to : –

Acting out

In some cases your dramatherapist may ask you to re-enact situations that have caused you problems in the past (see video above for family sculpting). This can be a difficult task to undertake as it can cause you to remember and re-experience difficult emotions so you need to ensure you are prepared for that. The idea behind doing this is to help you to learn how you can maybe do things differently in the future or simply understand why what happened affected you the way it did.


One of the most common activities used in dramatherapy is role-play. This is when you act the part of a certain character in a certain situation. An example of this would be to act the part of a child or parent and to explore any emotions this brings to the surface.


Miming is  acting without the use of speech.

This means that you will need to rely on your body language alone to portray a certain emotion or scenario, again, this is explored and demonstrated very well in the above video. This can cause you to think in different ways and may tap into feelings you’ve not been aware of before.


Using speech in dramatherapy could involve speaking in ways you don’t normally (for example if you have low self-confidence, your therapist may ask you to shout rather than whisper) or it may involve using language to describe the way a character is feeling.


Similarly to mime, movement therapy requires you to express how you are feeling through body movement rather than through words. You may find yourself dancing to do this, or indicating a state of mind through an action.


Use of props and masks

Sometimes using masks or props during a drama therapy activity can help you to take on different roles more readily. This can help you to identify with the character you are portraying or simply to help you to express emotions.


Improvisation in acting is to make up a scenario and dialogue on the spot. This technique may require you to work with others and makes you think on your feet.

How Can Drama therapy Help Ease My Depression?

It is believed that the communicative and social nature of drama therapy is especially helpful for those with depression.

Interacting with others has proven to help to ease symptoms of depression, while acting out certain scenarios can help to develop coping strategies.

Some people with depression find it hard to feel emotion and may feel ‘numb’. By undertaking Drama therapy it can help the depressed participant to name their feelings and express them in a safe environment through drama.

How Much Does A Typical Drama Therapy Session Cost?

Costs range from £40/$50 per session (hour) and sometimes can go up to £200/$300 and occasionally more depending upon the therapists experience, specialty and location. If you undertake group therapy with some friends or family then this cost can be reduced, sometimes by half, per person.

How Do I Know Which Drama Therapist To Choose?

Your Drama Therapist will need to be qualified and registered with the HPC and have undertook a recognised course in dramatherapy.

It is also most important in dramatherapy that the relationship between yourself and the therapist is strong and trusting in order to be able to open up about all your thoughts and feelings in order to be able to work on them and feel the environment you are in is non judgemental.

When you find the right drama therapist that offers you good communication, a partnership, trust, goals and a feeling of genuine understanding then together, over time, you will be able to challenge your thoughts, beliefs and perceptions.

What If Drama Therapy Doesn’t Work For Me?

First of all, don’t worry!

If you think drama therapy is the right therapy but you have the wrong therapist then you have every right to seek a second opinion and you will not offend your therapist, they just want you to heal from your difficulty as best you can and you deserve to feel better. If, on the other hand, you don’t feel drama therapy is working at all then do not be disheartened, there are many, many different types of therapy to heal from depression and drama therapy is only one. Use our therapy directory to find a different therapy, you may find hypnotherapy works better or possibly some holistic treatment. The key is not to think this is your only option.

Drama Therapy For Depression

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Please note : This information should not replace professional medical advice, it is purely for informational purposes . At all times when you are in crisis please first seek help from your GP or another medical professional. Thankyou