5th – 11th February 2018
“Thank you for dramatherapy. It has made my problems go away. It has been a blast. Thanks.” – 11 year old student
“I didn’t realize how effective dramatherapy would be for my daughter. I was shocked to see how open she has been with the dramatherapist in the course. I think it has helped her with her emotional skills and I think she will continue to use some techniques throughout her school and social life.”- parent
“At first I was a bit scared, but now I feel it has helped me a lot with my confidence and feelings. I don’t really get that much attention at home. Yeah, I feel I can talk to someone, that I can actually talk to them and stuff” –secondary school student
“Lara has enjoyed her dramatherapy sessions immensely. She has become very fond of the dramatherapist and welcomes the support. She feels that she can relax and be herself in the sessions. This support has been vital in Lara remaining in a mainstream school. She reports that she is more confident in managing school life.” -teacher
Roundabout works across London supporting children and adults experiencing a mental health problem. The report below gives one example of the support dramatherapy can provide.
REPORT ON ROUNDABOUT’S DRAMATHERAPY PROJECT WITH ADOLESCENT GIRLS
The following report is about our work with 10 students at a girls secondary school. The students worked with the dramatherapist 1:1 or in small groups for a minimum period of 10 weeks. Some participated in the dramatherapy sessions for periods of six months or more. All the students were aged between 11 and 17.
Specific aims in dramatherapy were identified for each individual student. Examples of these include:
- To improve emotional well-being
- To develop communication
- To support an increase in self-expression
- To support an increase in confidence and self-esteem
- To support a reduction in anxiety
- To provide a space to feel safe and listened to
- To address the issues producing challenging behaviour in class
- To develop relationship skills
- To increase self-awareness
The following gives examples of how individual girls responded to the dramatherapy sessions – names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Greta was keen to express her feelings and thoughts in the sessions. She used art, story-making and talking in the sessions as a way of exploring her needs. Greta enjoyed hearing traditional stories and used the characters and the themes to reflect on, and gain insight into, her life. Through discussion about the work in the dramatherapy sessions Greta developed immense insight and empathy when speaking about her thoughts.
Melanie came across as private and defensive at the start of dramatherapy and a significant aspect of the sessions was working together to develop a trusting working relationship, and to explore her defensive feelings.Using dramatherapy, and working non-judgmentally, she was able to gain trust as the sessions progressed.
Aiesha progressed well in the sessions, and became more able to listen and reflect. She showed compassion and sensitivity when her peers shared information about difficult areas in their lives, and often offered suggestions or advice. Aiesha found art and puppet work of enormous value, especially when she wanted to express more difficult feelings. The group listened and watched, and were able to support and affirm her, which in turn helped Aiesha to feel better about herself.
Susi enjoyed working with stories and choosing characters to enact. She was able to explore the characters, imbuing them with additional characteristics and feelings, and creating back-stories and suggestions about their lives. In this way she was able to explore safely her own feelings and vulnerabilities, with the distance of projection via the characters. Susi presented as resilient yet vulnerable, and worked with these two traits through stories and art. She was able to address her feelings of insecurity and anxiety in relation to her peers, but found it challenging to stay with her feelings.
Initially, Priya came across as shy and unconfident. However, she was able, after a short period of time, to name her anxieties and use the expressive arts to explore these feelings. Story-making and art work supported Priya to express herself without having to use words.
Rebecca’s stories began with themes of fear and confusion, but swiftly the overriding theme was that of mischief and anger. Often, the characters she created with such ease were the absolute opposite of her natural characteristics. For example, naughty children, or unkind friends. Threaded through all of her stories were many situations that she found highly amusing.
We would like to thank the individual students who attended the sessions for their commitment, enthusiasm and hard work. And, finally, our thanks go to the staff at the school, for their support and involvement.
In 2018, the aim of Children’s Mental Health Week is ‘Being Ourselves’ , an opportunity to celebrate the unique qualities and strengths in everyone.