Using Drama Therapy to Facilitate Healing and Growth

Paraphrasing from Shakespeare, "All the world's a stage and all men and women are merely players," Barbara Kaynan, Licensed Drama Therapist, finds that is the best way to describe drama therapy. Barbara continues to explain how drama therapy is used to weave trauma-informed psychotherapy interventions with artistic modalities to facilitate individuals & communities toward healing & growth.

By Barbara Kaynan, MA, RDT


I am Barbara Kaynan of Reweaving Communities. And I am honored to be a HER Health Expert this year. And I wanted to talk to you briefly about drama therapy.


I am a registered drama therapist with the North American Drama Therapy Association. I am the only registered drama therapist in the triangle, I think I am one of three registered drama therapists in the state of North Carolina. So while our association in North America is Mighty, and much larger than that, here in North Carolina, I am representing the triangle on my own and the states as one of three, maybe four.


So let me tell you what drama therapy is, if any of you have heard this line, and I’m going to paraphrase from Shakespeare, All the world’s a stage and all men and women are merely players, I find that this is the best way to describe drama therapy. Essentially, we look at life as a play as a drama, or a drama it or any anywhere in between. And that we are all playing roles in these stories of our lives and each other’s lives.


So for instance, in my life, I play the role of daughter, mother, sister, friend, therapist, artist, visionary, spiritual person, etc. The list goes on and on. I play a lot of different roles in my life. And I’m guessing that you do too.

You are a mama, which means you created life. To me, that is the ultimate act of creativity.

Drama Therapy In Action

And the way that a drama therapist views, dysfunction or disorder in mental health and in life, is when a person starts to feel or continues persists to feel stuck in one role, predominantly, or in one narrative. Predominantly, this is where we start to see struggle and pain, more black and white thinking and we lose the colors of the rainbow, we lose our creativity.


And so as a trauma therapist, as a creative arts therapist, I work with clients to remind them of the many other roles that they play in life, even if it’s roles that have lied dormant, but were really important to them at one time that they want to revive, or roles that they have always dreamt about playing but haven’t gotten a chance to play yet.


This is what we play with in our sessions, whether it’s through talking the way a typical talk therapy session might look, or whether it’s through utilizing the arts in a more direct way, like listening to a song together or reading or writing a poem or story together. Or getting up and moving our body and saying some lines that come to mind when we think of a role that we play or want to play. Or a story that we want to work through in relationship with ourself and others.


So no matter what shape the session takes, whether it’s embodied or talking, I am always bringing a drama therapists worldview to it, meaning I am always listening to the individual and the groups that I’m working with.


What stories am I hearing perhaps over and over again? What roles am I seeing them play or hearing them talk about over and over again? What metaphors what images come to mind? What do I feel in my body? And what do those sensations communicate to me about what the individuals and groups that I’m working with feel in their bodies?


We work with that. We work with that energy that’s in the room together toward resilience and healing.

You Are Creative

And of course, I always take a person centered trauma informed lens. So this is strength based work. This is systems thinking. I’m always thinking about the systems that the people I work with are navigating, what “isms” they might be facing as intersectional bodies and humans here on this planet.


And ultimately, it’s creative. Even if you think you’re not creative. This is what I always tell people especially mamas if you’re one of those people who think well, I’m not creative, like that’s just not me. I want to share this with you.


You are a mama, which means you created life. To me, that is the ultimate act of creativity. And you are engaging in the journey of motherhood every day again! Ultimate creativity!

An Invitation

So if you’re one of those people who says I’m not creative, I want to invite you to reframe that for yourself today. And I look forward to sharing with you some invitations on how to connect with yourself through Creative Arts practices.


One of those that I’ll share just at the end here is to ask yourself, what story have you been telling yourself lately? Check in with yourself about it. Maybe check in with yourself around what story have you been telling yourself around mothering lately. And then start to question it.


What parts of it, when you really dig into it feel true, and what parts feel like there’s wiggle room? You can journal with this. You can just be thinking about this prompt while you go for a walk. You can light a candle and stare at the flame while you think about it. There are lots of different ways of engaging with this invitation.


What is the story I am telling myself about mothering? And how can I begin to stretch and play with that a little more?


Thank you for taking the time to listen to me talk about what trauma therapy is and give you this prompt that will hopefully serve you to consider what is working for you right now in your story of motherhood and what you maybe want to let go of to make room for something else.

Barbara Kaynan, MA, RDT is a Registered Drama Therapist with the North American Drama Therapy Association. She holds a Master’s degree from NYU in Drama Therapy and a certificate from KINT Institute in the arts and trauma treatment. Barbara specializes in trauma-informed person-centered care; guiding individuals and groups, across treatment settings and cultural organizations, during times of big life transitions. Meeting people in this liminal space, Barbara integrates depth-oriented psychotherapy with mystical art modalities to aid my clients’ crossing through thresholds into newer, more authentic experiences. She is a published research scholar, peer review editor, and former professor at Long Island University-CW Post. Sessions can look like talking through issues as well as embodied, playful explorations and creations. She is founder and owner of Reweaving Communities.

Spread the word

  • Comments are closed.
  • Medical Disclaimer: All content found on the HER Health Collective Website was created for informational purposes only and are the opinions of the HER Health Collective experts and professional contributors. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.  If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.