No Talent Required: Using Drama Therapy in Support Groups for Cancer Patients

Jennifer Finestone

Abstract


Objectives:  It is well known that a cancer diagnosis impacts a person’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being as well as their body.  Many patients and caregivers seek out support groups to bolster themselves in this challenging time.  While talk and peer-based groups can provide validation and understanding, drama therapy can provide a beneficial approach for support groups.

Methods: Drama therapy is a gentle form of creative therapy between a trained therapist and one or more clients with a specific therapeutic intention.  It uses action methods (such as role play, storytelling, improvisation, writing, and projective tools) to facilitate creativity, imagination, learning, insight and growth.  Drama therapy provides a creative-expressive basis for support groups within a humanistic framework.

Results: Drama therapy-based support groups encompass the patient’s holistic experience and address all aspects of their cancer experience in order to provide meaning.  In addition to validating participants’ perspectives, they help participants to come to terms with their experiences and emotions, to gain insight into their responses and to learn new ways of dealing with them.  Drama therapy utilizes the concepts of distance, projection and witnessing to allow clients to explore challenging issues in a safe – and potentially playful – way.  It is a flexible approach that can be adapted to the specific needs of participants and therefore is well equipped to serve a broad spectrum of issues and concerns in varying and supportive ways.

Conclusions: This poster will highlight some of the theory behind drama therapy-based support groups to show the advantages these groups entail.  It will also showcase various creative interventions that have been used with cancer patients.


Keywords


Drama Therapy; Cancer Patients



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26443/ijwpc.v1i1.45

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