The Humanistic Nature of Drama Therapy

In giving lectures/workshops over the last month, I have come to discover a new depth of passion for my practice of Drama Therapy, specifically the Humanistic influence on the field. Humanistic Psychology was revolutionary in its time and asserted essentially that we, as humans, are intrinsically good and healthy. That we have a natural drive to move toward our own health. This way of thinking, coming out of a more sociological perspective and officially established in the '50s, but noted by some theorists much earlier, moved away from pathology, from identifying and focusing on what was wrong or broken.

It sounds so simple and obvious, but at the time, this shift in thinking was a big deal. Rogerian Humanistic Psychotherapy is still around, and I see echoes of this shift in thought in other approaches like Solution Focused Therapy and Adlerian Individual Therapy, and of course in Drama Therapy. Drama Therapy is also client-centered, is generally strengths-based and not pathology-focused, and it relies on and fosters the individual's capacities for self-reflection and understanding, capacity and skill building, and the supportive nature of the professional relationship between client and therapist. Renee Emunah, founder of the Five Phase Approach to Drama Therapy, describes the influence of Humanistic Psychology on Drama Therapy in more detail in her book Acting for Real (1994).

For me as a psychotherapist, I am deeply inspired by this Humanistic influence. My father is a Chiropractor and a deep believer in the natural capacity of the human body to heal itself. He sees the magic at work in the way our bodies know how to regenerate, clot, and fight illness, and he has always described his work helping patients with adjustments, acupressure, and nutrition as helping them to eliminate what's blocking their own natural ability for wellness. This is how I view my work as a therapist. I follow you, the client, trusting your sense of your own needs and instincts, and support, guide, and challenge you to shift whatever is blocking you from a more fulfilling life. It's meaningful to me to work this way. It's easy to focus on what's wrong, what we lack, what hurts. But underneath that, we all have the capacity to feel better and to do better by ourselves and the ones we love. Here's to the happy, healthy nature of us all! Now, go do something to take care of yourself today.