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Drama Therapy – The A To Z Of Allied Health

The dramatherapy profession  (also referred to in some countries as drama therapy) comprises active and experiential psychological therapists and is considered one of the more well established creative allied health professions.

What does a dramatherapist do?

As artists and clinicians, dramatherapists make purposeful use of theatre-based models and drama techniques to encourage their clients to express themselves, their stories, creativity, and feelings, and to identify and achieve their health and wellbeing goals.

Dramatherapists provide individual, couples, family, and group therapy, working with people of all ages and with a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and dementia.

Some dramatherapists specialise in working with particular client groups (e.g., older persons, children, or people in prison), or people living with various conditions, or at specific life stages (e.g., mental illness, dementia, end of life care, or in bereavement).

Dramatherapists draw on a range of strategies to explore ideas, issues, and memories with their clients. Some strategies include imagination, life scripting, roleplay, and storytelling to help clients address social situations, improve their interpersonal relationships, motivation, self-awareness, and self-esteem.

Advantageous personal qualities for dramatherapy

Dramatherapists need to have a range of skills and qualities to establish and manage a trusting therapeutic relationship with their clients.

They must be creative, flexible, resourceful, and able to demonstrate theatre skills to their clients. They need to be openly demonstrative of their ideas. Dramatherapists work with a range of people with different needs, so they must be able to improvise and communicate effectively. Dramatherapists need to be reflective and resilient, yet sensitive.

Work environments

Dramatherapists are found in many countries, including the UK, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Korea, and in parts of Europe (e.g., Germany, Greece, and Malta).

Dramatherapists work in health and social care settings, including hospitals, mental health services, and in private practice. They also work in schools, prisons, and in the corporate setting with businesses.

How to work in dramatherapy

To become a qualified dramatherapist in the UK, you’ll need to complete a postgraduate course that is both accredited by the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADTh) and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council. To enrol in a postgraduate dramatherapy course, applicants usually require a bachelor’s degree in drama, health or psychology-related field.

The North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) is the main professional body for drama therapists in North America and Canada, and sets the educational requirements to become a registered drama therapist. There are currently two pathways for aspiring drama therapists: via a NADTA accredited master’s degree program, or via a mentored training program. Both pathways require candidates to hold an undergraduate degree to qualify.

Dramatherapy education is newer to Australia, with the first Dramatherapy Masters established at Edith Cowan University in 2003. Up until this time, aspiring dramatherapists were required to study in either America or the UK. Drama therapists in Australia can complete either an introductory course over one year or an advanced course, such as the two-year Master of Creative Arts Therapy at the University of Melbourne established in 2020 or Edith Cowan University. Dramatherapists are not regulated in Australia or New Zealand.

In the UK, dramatherapy is nationally regulated and “dramatherapist” is a protected title under the Health and Care Professions Council. Licensure in the United States and Canada is governed by the states, provinces, and territories, rather than a national licensing system.

Workforce considerations

Dramatherapy was initially developed in the 1960s and has continued to evolve and gather momentum as an allied health profession.

Dramatherapy is well-entrenched in the UK, with BADTh established in 1977. Similarly, it has a long history in America, with NADTA accredited education programs in place since 1989. Whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, drama therapy has not yet gained the same level of status and traction.

Here are some links to websites and resources for and about drama therapists:


If you have questions about the dramatherapy profession, or if you wish to share your experiences as a dramatherapist, please leave a comment below.

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