Drama therapy is the use of dramatic/drama techniques for psychotherapy and more people from the city are opting for this type of therapy sessions. Subiksha Raman, a Chennai-based drama therapist, says, “The reason why people prefer drama therapy is that it’s a very non-direct approach to individuals who require help with their mental well-being. It is non-threatening because it allows the individual to distance themselves from the materials they bring to therapy. For eg, if someone has been through a traumatic experience, they might not want to repeat that experience word to word to someone. In such cases, it might become traumatising to them as they might not want to disclose it. So drama therapy allows them to keep a distance from the material and bring in another character or speak via another character through a third person rather than the first person.”
Subiksha has been focusing on raising awareness on drama therapy, after completing a Masters degree in Drama therapy from the University of Derby. She intends to educate people on the subject and also conducts individual and group drama therapy sessions.
Describing the drama techniques and how drama therapy uses these techniques, Subiksha informs, “There are many ways in which one can talk about themselves or express themselves; words are not the only way. You use these drama techniques in drama therapy to express yourself. If it’s threatening for you to directly express yourself, you can use another character or a third person for you to talk about your issues. Or you can use it as a fun activity as a means to express yourself. Many drama techniques can be used — in my practice I use a lot of storytelling, building characters and work a lot with body movements. So this underlying principle of drama therapy is to connect the mind and the body,in case your mind forgets certain things your body stores those experiences and remembers everything you go through. The idea is to connect the body and mind through fun activities such as storytelling, mime, improv, building a character or writing about a character and working with props.”
With the advent of coronavirus, mental health has become a priority to individuals who have become more open in exploring therapy via different modalities. Drama therapy is one such modality. “The appeal of drama therapy to individuals across the city are the unique name and the opportunity to explore themselves and their difficulties using techniques other than just words,” adds Subiksha.
Distinguishing between drama classes and drama therapy, Subiksha concludes, “While drama classes focus on the final product or performance and teach you the skills to come up with the result, whereas in drama therapy it’s the process that helps you and how you feel in the process.”