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Drama therapist

What is dramatherapy?

Dramatherapy is a form of Psychotherapy, where Dramatherapists draw on their knowledge of theatre and therapy, as a medium for psychological therapy. This may include drama, story-making, music, movement, and art.

Dramatherapists often have a background in theatre, health, or education and can be found in many varying settings such as schools, mental health care, general health social care, prisons and in the voluntary sector. Dramatherapy employs the use of play, games, movement, embodiment, stories, improvisation, projection and sound to facilitate psychological therapy.

Central to dramatherapy is the therapeutic relationship, so creating safety and trust is fundamental. Clients are able to explore a wide variety of different issues and needs from autism and dementia to physical/sexual abuse and mental illness in an indirect way leading to psychological, emotional and social changes.

Is dramatherapy the right career for me?

A career in dramatherapy offers an opportunity to be naturally playful and creative, allowing you to enjoy working with your body and imagination. Dramatherapists need to have good communication skills, be able to work autonomously as well as work as part of a team, have experience in and enjoy working with a variety of people. You will need to be able to draw on personal experience to inform your work with clients, identify areas for growth and continue to develop personally throughout your career.

What do dramatherapists do?

Dramatherapists work with their clients using a very wide range of dramatic techniques in verbal and non-verbal ways. Though vocalisation, story-making and talk are integral parts of dramatherapy, the practice does not necessarily rely on spoken language alone to resolve what a pupil, client, or patient may wish to address, explore or to seek support with. Embodiment and movement are also vital in our practice.

Dramatherapists work therapeutically with a diverse range of individuals, groups and organisations who experience significant difficulties, employing a number of dramatic contexts (such as stories, puppetry, and improvisation) to enable clients to explore difficult and painful life experiences through an indirect approach. Many dramatherapists are also independent artists and/or researchers, who specialise in areas that allow them to develop a unique focus.

Where do dramatherapists work?

Many dramatherapists create their own work by setting up pilot projects and freelance work. Others specialise in one area. Dramatherapists work in a wide variety of settings including:

  • NHS, working with people of all ages and with varying conditions
  • Education
  • Social Services
  • Private practice
  • Charities
  • Voluntary sector

What hours do dramatherapists work?

There are some full-time posts for dramatherapists, but most are part-time. NHS posts tend to offer posts within office hours.

How much do dramatherapists earn?

The basic starting salary is Band 6 or 7 within the NHS. Please see our Pay and Benefits section for more information.

What Career progression opportunities are available for dramatherapists?

Dramatherapists can become the lead therapist of their team or managers within their wider teams. They can be consultant dramatherapists within their work settings. Many dramatherapists go on to train as clinical supervisors.

How do I become a dramatherapist?

Do I need a degree? Yes, you will normally require a Bachelor's degree in drama or a psychological health related subject, or appropriate professional qualification/degree. You will also need the equivalent of one year’s full time experience working (paid or voluntarily) with people with specific needs; for example mental ill health, learning disabilities, children with emotional difficulties. In addition, experience of practical drama work and good interpersonal skills is necessary. If you want to work in the NHS you will need to complete a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) approved course.
Where can I train in Wales? The courses are based in Derby, Exeter, London, Roehampton and Cambridge. Please consult the BADth website for further information.
Is there funding available? Students can be funded by their employers, especially those employed within the NHS and Social Services. There are opportunities to apply for funding for course fees from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB). Otherwise individuals fund themselves.
Are there postgraduate opportunities? The training is at Masters Level. Further training can include a doctorate. It can also include training in supervision.
Do I need previous experience to apply for the course? Having experience in a care, health, education, social work or similar work with people is essential.
How do I get experience? To find out about work experience and volunteering opportunities in NHS Wales visit our Work section.
How do I apply for a job? All vacancies for NHS Wales are advertised on NHS Jobs. Visit our Work section for more information.

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