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Opinion: Act it out and be well

www.telanganatoday.com | July 1, 2023

Using drama to explore inner self allows one to experience hidden emotions and identify new ways of finding solutions

How people think, feel and act is the foundation of their mental health. Nearly 15% of the world’s burden on mental health is attributable to the severity of mental problems in India. The country has a sizable treatment gap as well. While there are several explanations for this, stigma is the fundamental and underlying cause.

Therapy is a type of medical care used to treat emotional suffering and mental health issues. It is studying and gaining an understanding of life choices and challenges faced by individuals, couples or families. Therapy is important as it allows you to examine your thoughts, feelings and behavioural patterns. Additionally, it can assist you in developing new coping mechanisms and methods for handling daily pressures and symptoms related to your disease.

Drama Therapy

Drama therapy is a therapeutic approach that involves a blend of diverse theatrical techniques. This therapy technique is rooted in the belief that all human beings have an innate sense of creative expression. Thus, using drama to explore their inner selves allows them to experience hidden emotions and identify new ways of finding solutions. It is an active and practical method that can assist people in dealing with a variety of challenges, including trauma, mental illness, marital conflicts and creating personal objectives. One of these challenges is bullying.

Drama therapy sessions can be one-on-one or group sessions and can be individual or paired with other approaches like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Drama therapists assist clients in navigating challenging life circumstances, processing painful emotions, and working through the past. This approach allows individuals to explore the range of solutions to a conflict with activities like role-play, voice exercises, and movement exercises. For example, an individual suffering from a loss of a loved one will be asked to explore the situation with different intensities of emotions and by “acting it out.” They are allowed to use their body, voice, projection, and props to express what they are feeling.

Beating Bullying

The physical, violent and verbal form of hostility arising due to an imbalance of power is called bullying. According to a survey conducted by the WHO (2017) among students in 40 countries, 79% of young people are exposed to bullying. This could be further divided into overt and covert bullying. Overt bullying, which is more common in boys, is in the form of physical violence and behaviours that are overtly expressed. Covert bullying, on the other hand, is more common in girls where social systems, isolation, and emotional damage are used.

Regarding physical appearance, girls are more likely to be picked on than boys because 17% of female teenagers reported being bullied for their appearance, compared with 11% of male teenagers.

Experiential learning aims at involving emotions and feelings to understand and develop social skills. This is done by working in groups where children have to interact and communicate with each other. The need to communicate allows them to listen, think, understand, and then react to what their co-actor is saying. The technique of communication and performance as a team is based on the underlying principle of role-play.

According to Bhukhanwala (2014), role-play can be therapeutic because it gives participants a forum to express their views about bullying, how to deal with it, and how they perceive it. The main purpose of role-play is to have children create characters. These characters could be inspired by real life or they could be fictional. In the case of bullying, children are required to improvise in hypothetical situations presented to them which are closely linked to their real life. Through critical thinking and sensitivity, the child takes the role of the other and tries to look at the situation from a different perspective. This merging between self and others facilitates discussions, sharing experiences, and sympathy.

Shirley Brice Heath, a researcher at the National Centre for Conflict Resolution (2005), asserts that rather than focusing on issues of delinquency and negative behaviour, programmes that capitalise on a child’s strengths and enable the transformation of frustration into creative expression produce better outcomes.

In a study conducted by Kalie Rae (2009), she researched different drama therapy models used in schools. The main five steps in all of these are warm-up, dramatic presentation, discussion, audience enactment and closure. The first step is warm-up which includes fun theatre games and exercises that children do to get to know each other. The second step is dramatic projection where children have the freedom to act out what they have been feeling. The dramatic projection has also yielded successful results in children with psychosocial problems. This includes externalising problems like hyperactivity, impulsivity and assertiveness.

Intimate Connection

Jones (1996) states, “There is an intimate connection between life and drama in drama therapy.” Students integrating what they learned via drama and role-playing into their daily life is the main objective of bullying prevention. In dramatic projection, children are allowed to scream, curse, talk softly and use hitting actions from a distance. This helps them project out their inner feelings and emotions.

As was previously said, Nicole Ventura (2021) suggests that the establishment of school-based assistance enables students and families to access free care without having to worry about transportation or parental supervision. Practitioners’ access to in-person implementation has been restricted as a result of the Covid pandemic. YouTube videos for the same subject could help with this. Another study by Kalie Rae (2009) concludes that these kinds of programmes can help students develop effective communication and problem-solving skills and may even lessen bullying behaviours when they are regularly taught as part of the curriculum. These interventions can help children act on their feelings and take charge of their behaviours. However, to determine the effectiveness of such programmes, more research is required.

This article has been authored by Aparna Gupta, FLAME alumna, and Prof. Moitrayee Das, Faculty of Psychology, FLAME University.

(Source:- https://telanganatoday.com/opinion-act-it-out-and-be-well )