Friday, 28 October 2011

Gibberish or Double Dutch?

Communication is the key to working through personal issues and interacting with society.

If we no longer can communicate, we become depressed and isolated. But often our feelings are misunderstood or unacknowledged. Are we simply speaking gibberish? Do we expect too much of others in requiring them to read between the lines?

The difficulties with communication are compounded where a person has a disability (eg Autism, ID) or an illness (eg Dementia). In these instances, difficulties arise as a result of some type of barrier (intellectual or physical) between the person trying to communicate, and the person on the receiving end trying to understand the message being given.

Drama therapy helps remove barriers and allows people to express (or communicate) their issues and feelings, and give them form - often indirectly. A drama therapist is trained to read between those lines and help the client interpret what they express in therapy.

A person might create a story about an angry boss, firing an employee. This could represent a feeling of needing control, or being allowed to vent frustration and anger.

For those that are non-verbal, drama therapy provides the opportunity to use mime and gesture to convey their needs. The therapist’s response validates those actions and empowers the person. A growling lion will scare the duck (representing in a different way the same feelings as the angry boss firing an employee in the example above). Purring noises being an indication of needing to be accepted and loved.

Through positive reinforcement (e.g. responding to the person’s particular way of communicating (and teaching others how to similarly respond)), a person will start to become more interested in trying to communicate. For example, those with Dementia come out of their state of isolation, and start to get interested once again in the world around them - starting with forming sounds, they move on to seeking to initiate contact, and often begin to use words again.

By making an effort to understand apparent gibberish (in some cases, be it growling, shushing, or tapping) and seeking to remove barriers to communication, we might open up a whole new and rewarding world for all involved.

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