Dramatherapy is a creative arts therapy. It combines the methods of drama and theatre with psychotherapy, to facilitate personal change. In a Dramatherapy session, the participants express feelings, thoughts, and ideas through creativity in a safe supportive therapeutic environment.
It’s methods can include movement, voice work, dramatic play, role games, puppetry, masks, improvisation, myths and stories. It is often a sensory experience and uses elements such as touch, sound and colours to engage the senses. The session is very much client led and the focus is not on performance but on the creative process itself.
Both Adults and children, who experience emotional and physical health difficulties can benefit from Dramatherapy: Low self-esteem, grief, learning disabilities, serious illnesses, depression, behavioural problems, dementia and autism spectrum disorders. It is a useful medium to help a person understand himself/herself better and to develop positive relationships in their life. The therapeutic space facilitates opportunities for increased self- awareness and personal growth.
The role of the Dramatherapist is to assist clients in attaining goals which may include personal and emotional growth, psychological integration, behavioural change, the development of social skills, and improvement in quality of life.
Veronica McGuire is a Dramatherapist – awarded a Master’s degree (First class with distinction) in 2006. Her educational background in dramatherapy includes an awareness and understanding of human growth and development (psychoanalytical studies), psychotherapy and counselling skills, dramatherapy theory, practice and processes, drama and performance theatre skills. She is currently furthering her studies in ‘Sandtray Therapy’ and its uses with children and their families.
Veronica predominantly specialises in the field of mental health of children aged 4- 12 years. Focussing on behavioural difficulties and loss through sickness, bereavement, and separation. She draws on her twenty-year experience of working with families and children while working as a radiographer in Childrens’ Health Ireland, Crumlin. In the hospital setting she also has facilitated projects as a dramatherapist with children and teenagers.
Through her career as a dramatherapist her work has brought her to work in a variety of settings; Athas – A project which provided creative arts therapies services to people with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities. The Dancing Soul, (Athlone) – A holistic centre dedicated to the enrichment of health and wellbeing on a body, mind, and spiritual level!
She has spent the last ten years working in a primary school setting with children who exhibit behavioural problems. Establishing a creative space for the children where difficulties could be explored, bringing fresh awareness, and understanding of behaviour and emotions to enable more productive relationships between pupils and teachers, and to increase social and communication skills on the part of young children.
Veronica follows best practice guidelines and is a member of the Irish Association of Creative Art Therapies.
“To put into word, the impact dramatherapy has had is quite dramatic- emotionally, socially and personally. This group had no previous experience of dramatherapy and big changes happened”.
“I could see little buds blossoming; self-esteem putting it’s head out and voices becoming stonger and louder. As individuals, they came through fear, anxiety, confusion and resistance to – calmness, excitement, letting go and a great oneness and trust.”
“ Dramatherapy provides an opportunity for children to express what’s causing them to behave in a negative manner. After attending sessions with Veronica, the child was able to interact positively with classmates and the teacher.”
“ The dramatherapy session was a sacred time; a special place of ritual, safety and comfort. They look forward to Wednesday mornings and wait with excitement and openness. They no longer have resistance and fear.”
“I saw several children so low in themselves that they did not wish to partake at the beginning, become so involved that they did not want the workshop to end. I have watched children who hid behind the door during the first workshop slowly take those giant steps into the circle to join the rest of the group…I have seen desperately ill children who may be slowly losing the battle with life; I have seen them smile and I have seen them forget; and it has been my privilege.” William O’Connell