“…we must not hold our fears…” A Case Study exploring the use of Group Dramatherapy as a Therapeutic Intervention with Children and Adolescents Living in Poverty.
This thesis explores the potential of group dramatherapy as an effective therapeutic intervention with children who are experiencing psychological difficulties related to their situations of poverty. It has been found that living in poverty causes children to grow up in an environment that is damaging to their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual development. The emotional issues that such children could experience and that are focused on in this study, are those of a negative self-concept and low self-esteem. The psychological difficulties and the different life stages that children or adolescents might be experiencing could contribute to difficulties in the verbal expression of thoughts and feelings. As a result the potential of a non-verbal therapeutic medium such as dramatherapy was explored with this client group. The use of dramatherapy to treat these emotional problems is first explored theoretically and then practically through the use of a case study. The case study takes the form of a participatory research study and this involved a dramatherapy intervention with a group of six participants at a school in Cape Town. The dramatherapy group was led by myself and two other Masters students from the University of Stellenbosch under the supervision of our lecturer, Heather Schiff, who is a trained dramatherapist as well as a clinical psychologist. During the dramatherapy sessions, drama structures were utilised with the aim that they might bring about a stronger sense of self for the group’s participants. Through the case study one can determine that the dramatherapy sessions did seem to bring about changes in some of the group participants, with regards to the perception and presentation of the self and increased self awareness and self-esteem. At the end of the dramatherapy sessions the group participants seemed to have a more realistic perception of themselves and also seemed to have developed with regards to self expression. It is also hoped that by expressing themselves through different dramatic techniques, the group members were also able to develop a fuller understanding of who they are.