Dramatherapy in Schools and Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescence can be one of the most tempestuous transitional periods in a young person’s life. It is a time of change and transformation. Neurobiological and hormonal changes can render it a turbulent time for some. Identity and image are important elements in the adolescent’s life that can be exacerbated by peer pressure.

For some mental health issues can add to an already challenging period of life. The Prince’s Trust released statistical figures that evidence the growing rate of mental health issues amongst young people. Mental health issues can include depression, panic attacks, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Within this adolescent stage of development experiences of early trauma, family break up, migration, abuse, neglect and loss that occurred in childhood can re-emerge. This re-emergence can complicate the adolescent’s life even more, creating obstacles to learning, to making friends and acquiring social and emotional life skills. It can give rise to challenging behaviour, school avoidance, eating disorders, self-harm and ultimately feelings of isolation. If these issues are left and unresolved it can lead to mental illness in early adulthood.

Other difficulties that can cause barriers to learning are social and emotional difficulties, learning difficulties and behavioural difficulties.

Dramatherapy and Mental Health

Dramatherapy as an intervention for adolescents at risk can help them make sense of the changes they are experiencing. For those with mental health issues it can provide a contained space to explore the presenting challenges that are causing mental distress which are obstacles to learning. Through the creative art form adolescents can safely begin to make sense of their inner worlds.

Group dramatherapy provides opportunities for social and communication development in an unobtrusive way. The safety of structured sessions allows adolescents to take risks. Collaborative working can help adolescents openly explore difficult feelings about interpersonal relationships. These interpersonal skills can be transferred to the classroom and other areas of their life.

My work with young people addresses these social and emotional difficulties through the creative techniques of story, drawing, sculpting, games and forum theatre.

The aims of dramatherapy include:

• Building self-confidence and self esteem

• Building trusting relationships

• Working towards increased emotional literacy, social skills and co-operation

• Developing communication skills, verbal and non-verbal

• Expressing and exploring feelings

• Opportunity to develop creative skills and a creative vocabulary

• Working with the imagination

• Working safely with clear boundaries

• Exploration of choice, self-responsibility and affirmation of self

• Opportunity to conceptualise inner processes in the outer world

School Dramatherapy Packages

Students

I offer a maximum of 5 individual dramatherapy sessions (one hour) or three group (3-6 students) sessions (one hour) to students per day or by arrangement. Sessions are open to students at risk, suffering from a mental health issue, loss, trauma, low self-esteem, learning difficulties, social and communication difficulties.

Staff

I offer teaching staff and support staff individual and group (3-10) supervision sessions. These sessions facilitate reflection and exploration of challenges that arise from working with young people. Session aims are to provide a deeper understanding of the social and emotional aspects of teaching and learning. They can be tailored for newly qualified teachers, recently qualified teachers, experienced teachers and teaching assistants.

INSET Training

I offer INSET training on mental health issues affecting young people such as self-harm, behavioural difficulties, attachment issues and the teacher-student relationship.

Cost

Daily Rate – Full Day £250 (5 individual sessions and 1 staff supervision session/3 group sessions and 1 staff supervision)

Individual dramatherapy session - £55 per hour session

Group dramatherapy session - £65 per hour

Staff Supervision - £60 per hour