Dramatherapists use acting and drama to help people of any age, who have a range of emotional, behavioural or mental health problems. They work with small groups or occasionally with individual clients in a safe, non-threatening environment. They do not judge the standard of their clients’ work.
You could be:
talking with clients and medical staff about the client’s problems
deciding which drama method is best to use
working with clients one-to-one or in groups
encouraging clients to express themselves, their experiences and emotions, through role play, mime, improvisation, scripted drama, puppetry, storytelling or dance
supporting clients as they act out their experiences, which may release distressing feelings, help them work through past traumas, to understand their problems, and perhaps lead to healing
helping clients to build better relationships with others
working with medical staff to help diagnose mental or emotional disorders and identify problems
assisting with a variety of projects, perhaps in collaboration with other organisations or charities.
As a dramatherapist with the NHS on the Agenda for Change salary scale, you would start on Band 6, £35,522 to £43,286 a year. Senior dramatherapists are on Band 7, £43,422 to £50,506 a year.
Outside the NHS your income would vary according to whether you were freelance or employed.
You could work in hospitals, clinics, prisons, additional support schools, family centres, child guidance units and drug rehabilitation centres. You might also be based in a theatre or community learning venue.
You might work in different centres and need to travel between them.
Working hours are normally regular, but you may need to do some evening work.
You require an approved postgraduate (SCQF Level 11) programme in dramatherapy recognised by the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth).
Queen Margaret University offers the two-year full time MSc Dramatherapy, which leads to eligibility to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
For entry to the Masters degree you need a degree, preferably in a relevant subject such as drama, psychology or a health related subject.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
You should be involved in drama or theatre, and in one of the caring professions or in education.
When you complete your postgraduate course you gain membership of the BADth. You must also register with the HCPC to work in the National Health Service (NHS) or with a local authority.
A driving licence would be useful and may be necessary.
This is a small but growing profession. Most dramatherapists work in the NHS but some work for local authority social work departments or voluntary organisations. Work is often based around temporary projects and fixed-term contracts. Other dramatherapists are freelance and are paid fees rather than a regular salary.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
warm, friendly and empathetic
creative with a knowledge of drama
able to listen to a client's experiences
imaginative and enthusiastic
a good communicator, able to work with people from different backgrounds
patient and perceptive
committed to the wellbeing of clients
able to cope with challenging situations
respectful of confidentiality.
Once you have gained state registration, you can join the BADth.
Training is on the job alongside an experience dramatherapist.
Throughout your career you will undertake a continuous professional development (CPD) programme by attending training courses and seminars.
Dramatherapists are required to undergo supervision with qualified supervisors throughout their career.
Some dramatherapists choose to work with a particular group of people such as children, the elderly, or offenders.
Other choose to specialise in a particular area such as dementia, mental health or palliative care.
You may move on to lead a team of dramatherapists.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.