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, £27,635 to £37,000 a year. Senior dramatherapists are on Band 7, £32,974 to £43,471 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 could do part time or sessional work.
Workforce Employment Status
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- You require an approved postgraduate programme in dramatherapy recognised by the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth).
- There are no BADth courses in Scotland. There are four approved courses in the UK. These are at Anglia Ruskin University, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of Derby, and the University of Roehampton.
- For entry to these Master degrees 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 Health and Care Professions Council (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.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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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
- 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 working lives.
- 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.
- You might become a teacher of dramatherapy.
- You may move into private practice.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Tel: 0300 500 4472
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.
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