Dramatherapy and Psychodrama

Dramatherapy and Psychodrama

This conference celebrates and explores the complex and rewarding interaction between psychodrama and other schools of therapy. To this end the Conference Committee invited senior professionals from five other schools of psychotherapy to present workshops on their particular area of expertise.

On the fifth day of this conference Jay Vaughan, a state registered dramatherapist, a dyadic developmental psychotherapist, a somatic experience practitioner and a theraplay therapist will present an exciting work based on her experiences as a founder of Family Futures, an agency working in London with adopted children and their families. I was in at the start of this exciting organisation as their first child psychiatrist and had the privilege (and enjoyment) of undertaking many action-based therapy sessions with Jay. Our work together, for part of this nine-year period of treatment with a young person and her mother, is described in her chapter in ‘Drama as Therapy:  Volume 2’, edited by Phil Jones and published by Routledge.

She describes her workshop at our conference, Healing Drama, thus:

This workshop will look at the healing process when trauma is re-enacted and different beginnings and endings can be rehearsed and performed. The role of the audience as a witness to this process, and the need to think about aesthetic distance for the client, will also be considered.

The following information is extracted (with permission) from Family Futures’ booklet:

Family Futures Information for Professionals Working with Fostered and Adopted Children 

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We’re all in This Together…

Parenting or caring for a child who is looked after can sometimes be more difficult than you anticipated. We have learned a great deal from carers about the difficulties they encounter. At Family Futures we are here to help you be effective in helping children to change. Family Futures endeavours to work in a genuine partnership with carers and parents. The majority of children placed in foster care today have come from abusive and traumatic backgrounds, which has shaped their behaviour and their view of their world. Consistent high levels of stress and repeated trauma in early childhood have been identified as causing a syndrome called ‘developmental trauma’. Every aspect of a child’s development will in some way be impacted and potentially impaired by poor parenting, repeated separations and abuse. Family Futures has pioneered post placement support programmes for traumatised children. Many foster families experience severe difficulties at times, sometimes resulting in crisis. At Family Futures, 96% of families stay together and experience positive changes in child-carer relationships, which is much higher than the national average. Family Futures offers a multi-disciplinary Assessment and Treatment Service that is evidence-based.

Appropriate Levels of Developmental Challenge

In Theraplay, the first step is an assessment of these four elements in the child-parent relationship. The outcome of this assessment will determine the sort of activities that the therapist will support the parent and child to engage in. Each activity will target one of the four elements, working to redress any imbalance or deficit. These activities can be part of a therapy session but also can be practised by parents at home or by classroom assistants in the classroom. Theraplay has a universal application for all children since attachments are key to all children’s mental health.

These interactions are playful, fun, and developmentally enhancing and help the child’s mid-brain development. They are affect-enriching in that they expand the repertoire of accessible feelings, together with the child’s ability to name a wider range of feeling. This mid-brain-focussed therapy is developmentally a stage on from the hard-wired survival responses of the primitive brain, which require regulation and management: this work represents a move towards the development of experience-dependent neurological and synaptic connections. It is a positive experience of infancy free from the fear of trauma.

For more information about the important and exciting work of Family Futures contact Jay or her colleagues on +44 (0)20 7354 4161, contact@familyfutures.co.uk http://www.familyfutures.co.uk

Or better still book into her workshop at the conference.

Paul Holmes Blog Editor