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The Use of Dramatherapy with Children

All You Might Need to Know About Drama Therapy

Sharda Kapadia, MA, MA, RDT

What is Drama therapy? Drama therapy is a non confrontational experiential approach that facilitates the child's ability to tell his/her story, explore his/her inner world, transform and change through the use of creative techniques. Some specific benefits likely to be achieved in drama therapy with children include reducing feelings of isolation, developing new coping skills and patterns, broadening the range of expression of feelings, experiencing improved self esteem and self worth, an increased sense of play and spontaneity, and the development of relationships.

The Sesame Approach: My practice is based on the Sesame approach to drama therapy which uses drama and movement to therapeutically open otherwise closed doors in children’s emotional lives. The term Sesame has been coined from the ancient story where the phrase “Open Sesame” opens the cave and reveals the treasure within. The cave is a metaphor for the Self. Through the use of the creative techniques employed in drama, story, play and movement children are encouraged to gently explore difficult situations and emotional blocks in a safe and non confrontational manner. The approach incorporates the philosophies of Jung, Laban, Slade and Lindkvist.

I find that the oblique and indirect approach of the session and the fact that it is non performance based, allows the child to work at his/her own momentum.

Spontaneous expression within the protection of role and metaphor lets the child explore and become aware of his/her emotions, thought patterns, unconscious beliefs and consider new perspectives and possibilities. Reactions and behavior can gradually be reflected on, understood and also changed.

Exploration through Play and Movement: During a drama therapy session, the child’s capacity for play becomes a central means of accessing and expressing feelings, gaining insight, and practicing successful approaches to difficult situations. I try to meet the each child wherever he/she is in the world of play. According to Erikson and other theorists, play allows children to gain mastery over conflicts and anxieties. Much of the philosophy around play in a Sesame drama therapy session is based on the work of Peter Slade who believed that the basic childhood experience of play gets hidden in the unconscious. Engagement in free and spontaneous play facilitates connections to this experience and thus enables the child to freely explore different aspects of himself/ herself.

Movement is an integral part of my drama therapy session. Laban’s theory of movement is based on the expression of one’s inner experience through movement. It facilitates an exploration of the child’s inner world through the exploration of different movements.

The Therapists Role: My role as a the Drama and Movement Therapist is to bring out the child’s inner feelings and emotions (often unconscious) in the session and develop them so that, over time, they begin to become more familiar and can be considered. My goal is to enable each child to discover herself/himself in an atmosphere of safety, trust and unconditional acceptance.

‘Drama therapy elicits joy in children. They can creatively express themselves, whilst they discover who they are.’ – National Association for Drama therapy newsletter.


Slade, P. (1995) Child Play: Its Importance for Human Development, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Levy, F. J. (1995) Dance and other expressive art therapies: When words are not enough, New York, Routledge

Long, K .& Zaiser, J. http://www.nadt.org/upload/file/childrenFactSheetfinal.pdf

Drama Therapy for Children : http://cwcloud.tripod.com/

Sharda Kapadia is a Drama and Movement Therapist who specializes in working with children.

You can contact me on 404-467-8203,or log onto www.31storiesllc.com.

URL: www.31storiesllc.com

EMAIL: shardak@bellsouth.net

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