Entr’acte

By Craig Haen, Ph.D., RDT, CGP, LCAT, FAGPA

In a recent TEDx talk (which you can watch here), Ash Beckham discusses the current tendency toward polarization in this country, despite the fact that most people are full of contradictions, and subsequently asks the audience to consider how much duality they can hold. Her talk was firmly on my mind throughout the weekend at this year’s NADTA conference. As we engaged in thoughtful and nuanced conversations about sameness and difference, the inevitable started to happen—intersections began to surface and play out. As facilitator Autumn Brown reminded us in the all-conference event (both in her planned content and in the spontaneous way she modeled how to approach and hold one of these moments), it is in these intersections where trauma can exist.

I am grateful to the many people who worked tirelessly to bring this event to fruition and to focus our attention on social justice, marginalization, and oppression. It has been a long time coming. But this is clearly just a beginning. If we want to strive for and become a socially just professional community, we are all required to consider the question: how much can we hold?

As someone who exists both comfortably and uncomfortably in the space of the NADTA conference, I was particularly attuned to people who expressed a similar sentiment. And I was reminded of a workshop Laura Cone and I had the privilege to hold a space for at the last conference in White Plains. At that event, which had the admittedly rabble-rousing title “I Hate Drama Therapy,” a small but very passionate group explored the ways in which (as one attendee so presciently put it) Drama Therapy has been an uncomfortable home. The participants in this workshop didn’t hate drama therapy; by contrast, it was a deeply important part of their professional identities. Yet, there were things about our professional community that didn’t always leave them feeling securely held.

How much can we hold? Can we hold both the people who attend the conference religiously and those who, for a variety of reasons, don’t come? Can we hold the aging founders of our field and the young lifeblood who are calling out for mentorship? Can we hold those who feel emboldened to lead a workshop or step on a stage and those who would never dream of it? Can we hold the member who speaks for vulnerability and the member who speaks for anger, and their shared incredulity about how reductive those labels are? Can we hold the leader who feels that serious research is the domain of those with a doctorate and the new professional who would like to see a system in which research is accessible to everyone? Can we hold those members who were grateful for an apology about cultural appropriation from leadership and those members who wondered what the fuss was about? Can we hold the members whose feet are firmly planted in the performance space and the members whose feet are firmly planted in the clinical one? Can we hold those who benefitted from coming to our field through one of our established higher education programs, and can we hold those who struggle to make their way to our profession through other avenues? Continue reading

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Year in Review

By Maggie Powell, MA

Inspired. Intrigued. 

Curious. Questioning. Challenged. 

Encouraged. Validated.

Empowered.

Connected. Grateful.

Proud.

These are just a few of the feelings I experienced over the course of my first year serving as Editor-in-Chief of Dramascope, the official blog of the North American Drama Therapy Association. It’s a role I was thrilled to accept a year ago, not just for the chance to give back to the NADTA, but because this blog filled a need I was experiencing personally. As a recent graduate, and a new professional in the field of drama therapy, I was craving a way to stay connected and to continue to learn and dialogue about important issues, theories and experiences unique to our profession, once I no longer had the luxury of regular access to an inspiring cohort and supportive professors and supervisors. I believed, and continue to believe, that social media offers our community tremendous resources and tools for discussing thoughts, ideas, and experiences, and encouraging education, collaboration, and the continued growth, development, and positive representation of our field.

In my role as Editor-in-Chief, I had the privilege of working closely with our authors, who included established theorists as well as up and coming scholars in the field of drama therapy. I’m grateful for the passion and dedication each one of them demonstrated in developing their pieces and sharing their thoughts and ideas with our community.

As well, Dramascope would not be the success it was without the blogging expertise of Managing Editor Caitie Parsons, the editing know-how of Technical Editor Danielle Levanas, and the vision, oversight, and constant support of Communications Chair Jason Frydman. I can’t begin to thank them for their patience, flexibility, efforts and dedication to this project, and couldn’t ask for a better team to work alongside.

I’m immensely proud of the depth and breadth of topics covered by Dramascope this past year. We explored theories about the use of performance in exploring trauma (Sajnani) and personal stories (S. Wood), the building and rebuilding of relationships in the playspace (Reynolds), and the transportive, and transformative power of story (Bailey). These meaty pieces gave me new perspective on our work, and the ideas and values at the core of what we do: story, relationship, healing. We dug into professional experiences, including inspiring career narratives (Kidder), formative training experiences (Pitre), and the important contributions we drama therapists can make to the workplace (Conover). These pieces painted such a vivid and colorful picture of what a drama therapy career can look like! Authors shared creative and innovative interventions, including poem houses (Savage), monster work (Ronning), and the use of metaphor to process experiences with aesthetic distance (Landis), and described their work with populations including Latino men (Ramirez), LGBTQ youth (Tomczyk) and individuals with eating disorders (L. Wood). I was inspired by these pieces, reading about the creative ways we engage with a wide variety of people. And because of that, Dramascope addressed diversity issues with candor, openness, and creativity, exploring playful and effective diversity training methods (Raucher), and serving as a platform for the publishing of the NADTA Board, Diversity Committee, and Advisory Committee (Black Lives Matter)’s statement on the Black Lives Matter movement. In these small but important ways, we demonstrated the influence our work has on our local, national, and global communities, and began to engage in some of the important and necessary foundational conversations that will keep our work grounded in principles of service, advocacy, healing, growth, and re-storying. It was an honor to have a hand in holding space for these important conversations.

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How Drama Therapists Impact Their Work Environment

By Jason Conover, RDT, LCAT, CASAC

Drama therapists bring their unique set of skills to every employment opportunity, regardless of the actual job title held within the field of human services. I have been a working drama therapist in New York City for over ten years. Not one of my job titles included the words “drama” or “therapist.” However, every interaction I have had within the workplace was filtered through the lens of role theory, role method, psychodrama, and other forms of creative engagement learned in my graduate and postgraduate training as a drama therapist. I have been a direct support professional for individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, recreation supervisor, transition developer on the curriculum team for individuals with intellectual or other developmental disabilities, and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor (CASAC) working in substance use prevention. In all of these professional roles I have infused creative arts therapy techniques and interventions to enhance and deepen the work done with clients in related fields and disciplines.

I have played many roles in my professional career, and they have all contributed to deepening and expanding my concept of what it means to be a drama therapist. I bring a sense of play to the work environment and to the work culture in which I am a member. I run weekly group supervision with the interdisciplinary treatment team in the substance use disorders outpatient clinic where I am currently employed. In group supervision, I have used Landy’s (2009) role profiles assessment tool to promote clinician wellness through the examination of role, and transference and countertransference issues among clients and clinicians. I share a small office with two other clinicians, one a social worker and the other a fellow drama therapist. There are client-made masks and other works of art on the walls, musical instruments strewn about, and other co-workers often come in to vent, take a breath, or share a laugh. The office is cramped and chaotic: a swirl of activity and a hub of creativity.

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