1st Edition

Trauma and Embodied Healing in Dramatherapy, Theatre and Performance

Edited By J. F. Jacques Copyright 2024
    282 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    282 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This edited volume explores the singularity of embodiment and somatic approaches in the healing of trauma from a dramatherapy, theatre and performance perspective.

    Collating voices from across the fields of dramatherapy, theatre and performance, this book examines how different interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches offer unique and unexplored perspectives on the body as a medium for the exploration, expression and resolution of chronic, acute and complex trauma as well as collective and intergenerational trauma. The diverse chapters highlight how the intersection between dramatherapy and body-based approaches in theatre and performance offers additional opportunities to explore and understand the creative, expressive and imaginative capacity of the body, and its application to the healing of trauma.

    The book will be of particular interest to dramatherapists and other creative and expressive arts therapists. It will also appeal to counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and theatre scholars.


    Cathy Malchiodi

    Introduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Trauma and the Body

    J.F. Jacques 

    Part 1: Theoretical Perspectives

    Chapter 1: The Imagined Body: Drama Therapy’s Unique Contribution to Trauma Treatment

    Craig Haen

    Chapter 2: The Emotional Body: A Somatic and Trauma-Informed Practice for Cultivating Expressive Capabilities for the Actor and the Individual

    Laura Facciponti Bond

    Chapter 3: Playful and Poetic Embodiment for Indirect Processing of Trauma Using Masks: A Drama Therapy Framework Inspired by Lecoq’s Physical Theatre Pedagogy

    Shiu Hei Larry Ng

    Chapter 4: Engaging the Body From a Distance: Online Dramatherapy with Traumatised Children

    Christiana Iordanou

    Chapter 5: Therapy of Gesture: Integrating Psychophysical Approaches from Theatre and Therapy in the Healing of Trauma

    J.F. Jacques

    Chapter 6: Playing in Multifaceted Trauma: Reflections on Embodied Drama Therapy in South Africa

    Margie Pankhurst and Jessica Mayson

    Chapter 7: Integrating Dramatherapy With the NeuroAffective Relational Model™ (NARM) for Healing Developmental Trauma

    Danai Karvouni

    Part 2: Intersection

    Chapter 8: In the Shadow of Oppression: Nora Amin’s Theatre of Crime

    Noha Bayoumy

    Part 3: Practice and Research Perspectives

    Chapter 9: The Girl at Christmas Cottage: An Embodied Experience of Making Theatre in Individual Dramatherapy with an Adopted Child

    Sarah Mann Shaw

    Chapter 10: Gesture in Actor Training and With Survivors of BPD Diagnosis: Finding Communication Towards Relational Thirdness

    Roanna Mitchell

    Chapter 11: Hands: Their Rhythms, Gestures, and the Portal They Offer in Therapy

    Emma Westcott

    Chapter 12: The Voice and Anger: Experiences of Healing Through Performance

    Greta Sharp

    Chapter 13: Embodied Theatre Practice Towards the Creation of New Meaning

    Ailin Conant

    Chapter 14: The Harmless Ghost: A Mythopoetic Approach to Trauma

    Shruti Garg

    Chapter 15: Healing the Intergenerational Trauma of Enslavement: The Enactment of Historical Documents with Afro-Colombian Youth

    Angelo Miramonti



    Jean-François (J. F.) Jacques, PhD, HCPC, is an independent dramatherapist, somatic practitioner, clinical supervisor, educator, researcher, artist and author with more than 20 years of experience in private practice, and in the statutory and voluntary services in the UK.

    ‘This book brings together the wisdom and collective knowledge of experts in the application of the principles of dramatherapy, exploring how dramatic enactment addresses embodiment within the context of trauma. However, this volume and its editor go far beyond that—they bring to light the integrative potentials of dramatherapy, theatre, and performance in all its depth and complexities. Setting a new standard for how psychotherapy can envision the treatment of traumatic stress, the book expands our knowledge of just how creative and expressive methods can be applied to resolving the body’s experience of trauma. More importantly, this book provides readers with a framework for establishing a pathway to re-sensitizing the body to narratives that are at once resilient, reparative, and restorative.’

    Cathy A. Malchiodi, PhD, Author, Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process

    Trauma and Embodied Healing in Dramatherapy, Theatre and Performance offers a wealth of new insights into the different ways traumas are experienced and understood. Parallel to these windows offered into its manifestations and causations are opportunities to access ground breaking knowledge and research into an exciting variety of health related responses to trauma. The considerable strength of this volume is its interdisciplinarity. It illuminates the many values of new perspectives that are being developed by fascinating dialogues focused on the health potentials of embodiment and somatic approaches. We see the benefits of a range of innovative interactions between diverse traditions and perspectives: from dramatherapy to performance, from cognitive studies to play, from actor training to neuroscience. Context is thoughtfully engaged with, as we gain access to research undertaken in various cultures and countries. I strongly recommend this book as essential reading for those involved in training, practice and research in psychology, psychotherapy, the arts and the arts therapies.’

    Phil Jones, Professor of Children’s Rights and Wellbeing, Institute of Education, University College London’s Faculty of Education and Society

    Trauma and Embodied Healing in Dramatherapy, Theatre and Performance offers a timely and important contribution to the growing understanding of embodied work with survivors of trauma. The inclusion of both clinical and theatre/performance-based chapters is exciting, generative and germane. With its international and multidisciplinary perspectives and descriptions of culturally-sensitive practices, this book will spark needed conversations and further research - particularly in the field of drama therapy - on the vital role of the body as an outlet for expression and an inroad to healing.’    

    Renée Emunah, PhD, RDT-BCT, Founder/Director, Drama Therapy Program, California Institute of Integral Studies. Author of Acting for Real: Drama Therapy Process, Technique and Performance (1994, 2020), Co-Editor of Current Approaches in Drama Therapy (2nd and 3rd editions), and The Self in Performance 

    ‘The writing is immediate, visceral and urgent in ways which capture and convey what it is to be with embodied, somatic experience. Similarly, the chapters authors mine their insights and understandings from the inside out. Their relational and often moving accounts coalesce into a rich and expansive narrative. This results in a body of work which provides a compelling intersectional and intercultural take on new, diverse and relevant approaches in healing the multifarious wounds of trauma.’

    Bryn Jones, MA, HCPC, Dramatherapist, Clinical Supervisor and Lecturer in Drama (MA Drama and Movement Therapy) at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London)

    ‘This much needed book highlights ways of thinking somatically in dramatherapy and theatre about trauma. It provides a wide range of international perspectives and powerful encouragement for further research in this area. There is an enrichment of perspectives through the cross-fertilisation of theatre and dramatherapy. The chapters illustrate intersecting global North and South perspectives. They provide wonderful examples of dramatherapy as an intercultural space in the embodied healing of trauma and oppression. Literature on the use of the body in the healing of trauma through integration with other somatic approaches remains scarce. This book opens the way for further collaborations.’

    Ditty Dokter, PhD, self-employed dramatherapist (HCPC) and group analytic psychotherapist (UKCP). Former MA Dramatherapy course leader at various universities, doctoral research supervisor and lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University (UK) and Codarts (Netherlands). Co-author with Nisha Sajnani of Intercultural Dramatherapy: Imagination and Action at the Intersections of Difference (Routledge, 2023).

    ‘We know that the actor’s body is not just a biological machinery that the actor’s mind can master. It has a say in the ways we construe the world and take decisions, it stores positive and negative emotions, and it ‘keeps the score’ of our traumas. Focussing on the latter issue, this book has all it takes to be a milestone. It shows how the embodied nature of drama can help unfreeze the traumas dwelling in our bodies, and how the gentle and respectful approach of dramatherapy can offer us a chance to heal them.’

    Salvo Pitruzzella, author of Drama, Creativity, and Intersubjectivity: Roots of change in Dramatherapy (Routledge, 2017). Member of Honour of the European Federation of Dramatherapy

    ‘This book makes an important and exciting contribution to the fields of dramatherapy, theatre, performance, and actor training in relation to imaginatively embodied and somatic approaches to the healing of trauma.  Jean-François Jacques has brought together a dynamic mixture of multimodal and interdisciplinary approaches to embodied healing practice in this publication.  The authors present varied and creative perspectives on the use of embodiment in theoretical contributions to the field of trauma, clinical practice, practice research projects, participatory arts projects, approaches to actor training, directorial and pedagogic practices, and play texts. Importantly, this publication explores cross-cultural perspectives and considers race and systemic racism, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexuality and disability in relation to trauma, healing and embodiment.  The authors all situate their varied approaches to embodied healing from trauma as relational and explore this in their respective socio-historical contexts.  Some chapters explore detailed case studies of individual clients or participants, others explore group or community contexts.  A number of authors share personal experiences and healing journeys, and some chapters explore the collective experiences of trauma, for example the intergenerational experiences of enslavement and systemic racism. In addition, this book addresses the under-explored potential of the embodied methods and principles developed by theatre practitioners such as Michael Chekhov, Jacques Lecoq, Augusto Boal and Susana Bloch for dramatherapy, generating a timely dialogue between these different disciplines. The contributing authors detail an inspiring use of creatively embodied healing techniques including a use of: play; games; gesture work; images; body sculpting; mask work; drawing; poetry; dance; vocal work; myths; metaphors; archetypes; embodied and written storytelling; autobiographical practice; creative historiography; and participatory performance making.  This book will be a valuable resource for those working in the fields of dramatherapy, theatre, performance and actor training who are interested in the growing use of embodiment in the treatment of trauma.’

    Dr Cass Fleming, Co-Director of The Chekhov Collective UK and Senior Lecturer, department of Theatre and Performance, Goldsmiths University of London

    ‘This collection of essays offers readers a thoughtful exploration of the specific ways in which the imaginative, embodied practice of drama therapy responds to the somatic reverberations of trauma. At once poetic and instructive, it is a must-read for students and experienced practitioners.’

    Nisha Sajnani, PhD, Director of the Program in Drama Therapy, New York University