1st Edition

Dramatherapy and Recovery The CoActive Therapeutic Theatre Model and Manual

By Laura L. Wood, Dave Mowers Copyright 2024
    242 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Dramatherapy and Recovery offers a comprehensive and groundbreaking approach to harnessing the power of theater in the recovery process through the use of playmaking and performance.

    This manual is based on the CoActive Therapeutic Theater (CoATT) model, the first of its kind to be meticulously documented and standardized. With its emphasis on replicability and measurable outcomes, the CoATT model is brought to life through annotated scripts and progress notes extracted from past productions involving diverse populations, including those with eating disorders, aphasia, schizophrenia, and substance abuse disorder. The authors illuminate the six principles that distinguish CoATT from other therapeutic and applied theater approaches. The chapters provide a structured framework compromising seven defined movements that act as attainable milestones for participants guided towards producing a powerful and transformative public performance.

    Dramatherapy and Recovery equips practitioners of dramatherapy, counseling arts in health, applied theater, community theater, and other mental health disciplines with the tools needed to create transformative performances with individuals reconnecting with the community after treatment.

    1.  Locating the Model 2.  Six Principles of the CoATT Model 3.  Movements in the CoATT Model 4.  The CoATT Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Therapeutic Theater 5.  Eating Disorder Recovery 6.  Aphasia Recovery 7.  Learning from the Scripts 8.  Future Directions Appendix A:  Partnership Checklist Appendix B:  Production Checklist Appendix C:  Rehearsal Report Appendix D:  Worksheets for Practitioners Appendix E:  Sample CoATT Semi-Structured Individual Interview Appendix F:  Sample Strengths and Resources Worksheet


    Laura L. Wood, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Drama Therapy program at Lesley University. With a deep commitment to the field, she has had the privilege of serving as the President of the North American Drama Therapy Association. Her global contributions through teaching, lectures, and consultation have helped advance the practice of drama therapy and creativity in counseling.

    Dave Mowers, MA, trained at New York University drama therapy program under Robert Landy, later joining the faculty. He developed and produced five seasons of therapeutic theater under the As Performance program. He is the co-creator of the CoActive Therapeutic Theater Model.

    ‘This fascinating book addresses the use of the “performance frame” in drama therapy from a refreshing angle, positioning CoATT at the exact border between therapeutic and community theatre, and as a bridge between medical-standardized models of recovery and more alternative and inclusive forms.  This cutting-edge approach embraces a post-modern, social constructivist paradigm, which is attuned to the social justice perspective that is so necessary to strengthen in our times. The book is clearly written, the Movements between the various phases of the process plainly explained, and the exercises easy to follow and replicate. The book will inspire a wide range of practitioners, from applied theatre, drama-in-education, community theatre, theatre activism, drama therapy, psychodrama, creative arts therapists, and other socially and therapeutically oriented professionals, working with groups and individuals in rehabilitation, recovery, and psychotherapy.  An essential contribution to the field.’

    Susana Pendzik, Former Head of the Drama Therapy Graduate Program, Tel Hai Academic College; Lecturer, Theatre Studies Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


    ‘Laura L. Wood and Dave Mowers present a uniquely compelling and powerful model for drama therapists and indeed all mental health professionals.  Wood and Mowers meticulously offer a manual for creating and reflecting upon the praxis of therapeutic theatre.  Further, they present several poignant illustrations applying the manual to the recovery of people living with eating disorders, aphasia and chronic mental illness.  Of great significance is their aim to transition from the manual to the praxis to protocols for creating evidenced-based research for treatment, so sorely missing in the field of creative arts therapy.  As one who has devoted his professional life to developing drama therapy praxis, I strongly urge all my colleagues and students to read and to coact with the authors in transporting drama and related arts therapy fields into exciting new territory.’ 

    Robert Landy, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, New York University


    ‘This is the book that is going to change our entire field. Laura and Dave have opened the door on evidence-based work in drama therapy, all while keeping the creativity and spontaneity that is so integral to the work.  This strength-based recovery model sets the stage for success in the sometimes-elusive possibilities of therapeutic theatre.’

    Heidi Landis, LCAT, RDT/BCT, TEP, Psychotherapist and Adjunct Professor, New York University/Lesley University 


    ‘This book lays out a clear step-by-step guide for therapists and participants toward constructive and meaningful recovery efforts using drama therapy. The manualization of the CoActive Therapeutic Theatre model allows creativity to flourish within a flexible structure and invites other creative arts therapists, applied theatre practitioners, and mental health professionals to safely engage in the power of devising therapeutic theatre with clients.  The research toward its approval as an evidence-based therapy is vital and needed in the creative arts therapy community.’

    Sally Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT, Professor and Director, Kansas State University Drama Therapy Program


    ‘Dr. Laura Wood and Dave Mowers have done the mental health treatment enterprise a great favor.  They have provided a creative method for treatment of sometimes isolating and treatment-resistant disorders.  Their approach involves community engagement of clients through active participation in therapeutic theater.  It is a “co-active” approach in its acknowledgement of the truths clients associate with their conditions and the truth of building a healthier narrative with others through participation in a theater production.  Their method is groundbreaking in its application of social constructivist theory — moving treatment clearly into the realm of shared experience as a healing way to construct new healthy truths for people in need.  Theater acts as a vehicle to metaphorically address real life challenges.  It is refreshing and will engage the most creative aspects of the experience of clients.  The authors not only provide a theoretical foundation, but they also provide a concrete manualized guide for implementing the model.  The guide is detailed and addresses significant and ethically challenging aspects of the work, including recruitment and screening of participants and consent through participant commitment — a valuable contribution to the literature.’

    R. Rocco Cottone, Ph.D., Curators’ Distinguished Professor, University of Missouri


    ‘With Dramatherapy and Recovery, the authors cast an engaging and informative light on the transformative power of theatre as a supportive force for people in recovery to be in dialogue with their healing journeys. Dr. Wood and Mowers furnish readers with the gift of an innovative and accessible approach that gives participants creative agency to reimagine their recovery.’

    Adam D-F. Stevens, M.A., RDT, LCAT-P, Drama therapist and adjunct professor, New York University, Marymount Manhattan College, and Antioch University, Seattle


    ‘As ongoing crises and trauma layers across individuals and communities, the need for deep healing becomes increasingly obvious.  This book provides a rich explanation and example of how theatre can provoke joyous recovery from the illnesses of current living.  Ultimately, we engage with hope for better futures.’ 

    Peter O’Connor, Director, Centre for Arts and Social Transformation, Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland; Professor II, Volda College University, Norway


    ‘The authors of this inspirational book present an exciting and innovative theatre-based approach to Dramatherapy. The model of practice they have created is examined in a coherent and rigorous manner that is consistently reader friendly and engaging.’

    Madeline Andersen-Warren, Past Chair of The British Association of Dramatherapists, United Kingdom