Friday, 30 September 2011

The ripple effect

As with any therapy form, drama therapy also has a ripple effect. You treat the person, and automatically family, school, work, and the wider community will benefit from the effects drama therapy offers.

System theory explains it all. Change one element, and the rest automatically has to change as well.

It is great to hear the stories from families, and the people involved in their lives, of the benefits that drama therapy has brought for all of them.

A while back, Linda and I ran a drama therapy program at a dementia day centre. The effects of the therapy were not only noted in relation to the clients. We also received feedback of the changes for the caregivers and the clients’ families. As a result of breaking the isolation felt by the clients, they started to re-engage with the people around them - newly established communication skills (expression, empathy and in some cases, speech) allowed for positive communication and reciprocity. Families got to see and reconnect with their loved ones again, aggressive behaviours diminished and mobility skills improved, allowing for meaningful participation in the community.

By way of another example, a previous client with Autism diagnosis, through drama therapy was able to become engaged in meaningful employment. The client went from being unable to participate in the community, due to fear and depression, to being a productive member of society.

Sometimes it is possible to become so focussed with a client that you tend to forget (or not realise) the changes that drama therapy makes to many people lives, over and above the client that you are directly working with. Whenever a difficulty is encountered in a client’s progress, it is often inspiring to look at the bigger picture and recognise this ripple effect, to appreciate that any short term challenges are just a step on the way to bringing changes for the better in many people’s lives.

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