Art Therapist Delves into the Annual Drama Therapy Conference

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By Katie Pape M.ed, LPC, ATR

Recently, I had the privilege to attend the North American Drama Therapy Association Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. What I learned from my immersion in this world is there are many types of drama therapy and many resources in helping our clients in making breakthroughs. Through diving into their story, clients can change their life, specifically through the practice of Narradrama.

Narradrama is the combination of narrative therapy and the creative arts to form action that encourages agency, awareness, and alternative stories, allowing clients to restore their life by regaining control and shaping their future of a life worth living. Clients rehearse desired behaviors, practice relationships, expand the flexibility, and rewrite their future in drama therapy. Narradrama with a group fosters connection, perspective-taking, and self-confidence to help bring about the change they need to become unstuck and move forward with their lives.

My goal is to help individuals become aware of how the skills they learn can become real through acting out situations as well as help them process these in their minds and bodies in a truly integrated model. As an art therapist, I have witnessed how art therapy gives voice to the unconscious and helps clients process visually. Drama therapy helps give voice to the body and mind connection assisting clients to process through sound and movement. Using the combination makes drama and art therapy a great transformative healing team.

How is Narradrama used at Pasadena Villa?

At Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center-Raleigh, we provide diverse treatment interventions in a supportive environment that helps our clients discover ways to recognize and manage their symptoms. Our group and individual therapies range from process group therapies, experiential therapeutic activities, art therapy and social integration activities. Our psychotherapy groups are grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT). We match treatment interventions and tailor them to the clinical needs of our clients and families.

In our Expressive Arts group, we use Narradrama to introduce drama therapy into art therapy; one example of this would be the making of masks. The group goal is to release what is unconscious and make it conscious, bringing awareness and insight into who we are beneath our mental illness, and for group support and affirmations. The group begins with creating and painting masks. The outside of the mask represents our outer face, and what we choose to show people. The inside of the mask represents our inner face and what we decide to hold back from others. After the masks are created, the client holds them up and completes the phrases:

  • I feel…
  • I look…
  • I am…
  • I need…
  • I am afraid of…
  • Don’t ever call me…

Afterward, the group breaks up into smaller groups of 3-4 people and creates a narrative about who these mask people are and where they live and what they do. As client’s role play these mask characters, the group processes the experience and feelings about what it was like to be these characters and what it was like to change their story.

At Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center – Raleigh, we specialize in treating adults who struggle with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Our focus is on the unique goals of our clients and we are dedicated to helping them create a life worth living. We understand that people are not a diagnosis, people are a mixture of all that has happened and their future journeys.

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