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Embracing the Transformative Potential of Drama Therapy

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Mental health and addiction treatment needs are unique for each client. Drama therapy is a type of recreational therapy that gives clients a layer of separation from their emotions. While acting and role-playing have a level of discomfort, it is highly effective for mental health. Drama therapy in addiction treatment is also valuable and is an excellent option for many clients. 

What Is Drama Therapy?

In drama therapy, individuals and groups work together to play out different situations. These are generally not past situations but instead mostly imagined or improvised. In general, the goal is to help clients discover new methods to deal with familiar situations that are challenging for individuals or multiple people in a group. 

Making different choices for improved outcomes is very challenging. Drama therapy is a space where clients can explore what those options would feel like. For example, one may role-play being at a party and being offered a drink after they are out of treatment. Clients and groups can then examine how each response felt, and see if there are other, better ways to deal with the situation. 

Benefits of Drama Therapy

Many populations are well suited for drama therapy. Below we will outline each and describe how drama therapy is beneficial. 


Many clients with a history of trauma have intense emotional reactions toward things that remind them of the initial trauma. It can feel unsafe to engage in the memory, and thus treatment options that provide emotional distance are helpful. By interacting in made-up or improvised storylines, clients with trauma often feel safe enough to engage in creative thought. 

This is particularly helpful for women. Drama therapy is interactive, meaning a client will be only one person in the storyline. Researchers suggest that women tend to experience life more socially, making this interaction even more important in healing women with trauma. 

Enduring Change: Drama Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Drama therapy is a tool that helps clients make adjustments to their roles. It can improve a client’s role by expanding their options, allowing them to transition better between different roles. Based on role theory, drama therapy teaches clients at a point of change how to build or adjust their sense of self. 

The roles played are not simply a role but also a form of self. They are comprised of values, actions, habits, and qualities that make up a person. In role theory, mental health is partially based on the ability to be flexible between roles. As our lives change, we sometimes need to adjust the roles we play or play different roles altogether. This might include going through detox and living sober, having a child, or aging. 

Drama Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is unique for each client. Finding the therapeutic modalities that work for you is important. However, for many, drama therapies can be surprisingly helpful and, thus, worth considering. 

There are multiple reasons why drama therapy aids in addiction treatment. These include:

#1 Relapse Prevention

Long-term sobriety is challenging, and learning how and what may derail you can help. Drama therapy addresses situations that can cause issues in the future. By practicing different options, you are more likely to be prepared when re-entering your life. While it may feel silly or odd to act them out, it provides you with the opportunity to try them on, make adjustments, and be ready for real situations when they come. 

#2 Communication

Having a community you can rely on is vital for mental health and recovery. As you go through treatment for substance use, your life will change. You will need to learn new ways to be in various situations. Improved communication is helpful in many places in your life, including family and work. 

Being able to address concerns that arise in family and work helps decrease stress and provides you with options other than substance use. Drug and alcohol use is frequently a coping mechanism used to “solve a problem.” Solutions that are outside of substance use will likely require communication. Examples may include speaking with your co-worker about reallocating workload or telling your family about how they can be supportive during the holiday season. 

#3 Mental Health

A co-occurring diagnosis of a mental health disorder and addiction is not uncommon. Drama therapy can help address mental health conditions that may be a result of multiple factors, including trauma, loss, or life changes. Dual diagnosis treatment offered at Pacific Sands Recovery Center addresses both. This is important as each tends to make the other worse. 

Drama Therapy at Pacific Sands Recovery Center

Many therapeutic modalities are available at Pacific Sands Recovery Center, one of which is drama therapy. Our professional and knowledgeable staff leads clients through many exercises to help them process and expand their options. It is one type of treatment available that works alongside other treatment modalities to help clients heal from mental health disorders and addiction.

Change is challenging to process and move through, even when it is a positive change. Learning new ways to manage it in life is important when recovering from addiction and/or mental health disorders. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we offer unique treatment plans for each client that addresses their specific needs. Clients have access to different treatment options, including drama therapy. Drama therapy is helpful in reframing situations, learning new skills, and providing emotional separation from old traumas. If you are exploring options for detox, addiction recovery, and improving mental health, we can help. Call us today at (949) 426-7962 to learn more about our facility and our programs. 


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