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Dramatherapists perform controlled sessions where theatre and drama-based activities are used to observe and explore the behaviour, attitudes and emotions of individuals experiencing physical, psychological, emotional or mental health problems.

Dramatherapy is a small profession with many dramatherapists working freelance.

What do dramatherapists do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Employers of dramatherapists include the NHS, social services departments, residential homes, prisons, young offender units, schools, disability units, voluntary organisations and charities. Therapists commonly work as private practitioners or on a self-employed basis. Their work is with adults, young people and children who suffer from depression, anxiety, physical/psychiatric/neurological disorders, learning difficulties, dementia, autism, behavioural problems or emotional problems. Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • assessing and monitoring clients' needs
  • planning and providing appropriate treatment
  • liaising with and taking referrals from other professionals including doctors, psychologists and other therapists
  • maintaining confidential records and case notes
  • helping clients understand and address inner conflicts through drama processes such as role-play, storytelling, improvisation and script work
  • enabling clients to learn new skills and build confidence
  • making use of props, equipment and materials
  • writing reports
  • attending short courses and workshops to keep skills up to date

Dramatherapy is a small profession and job vacancies (particularly those that are full-time) attract strong competition. Most opportunities are part-time and/or temporary. Vacancies are advertised with the NHS, in national newspapers and publications including Community Care and Health Service Journal, as well as their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into becoming a dramatherapist for both university graduates and school leavers.

To work in the NHS or in educational and community settings it is essential to gain an approved postgraduate dramatherapy diploma or MA, which take between 18 months and three years to complete. For entry onto an approved course it’s normally necessary to have a degree qualification in a relevant subject, for example drama or psychological health.

It is possible to be accepted onto a dramatherapy diploma or MA without a degree if you have a professional qualification, for example in nursing or social work. Without a professional qualification, you could still be considered if you have at least one year's experience in working with people with specific needs, such as ill mental health.

Key skills for dramatherapists

  • Candidates must be mature and non-judgemental in attitude
  • Resilience and the ability to cope with challenging situations
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Respect for confidentiality

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