Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-4-2019

Faculty Advisor(s)

Jocelyn L. Buckner


Theatre is an incredibly valuable therapeutic tool. In this thesis, I explore the ways in which trauma can reshape individuals lives, both cognitively and physically, impeding their sense of self, ability to trust, engagement, and many other seemingly ordinary aspects of day to day life that those of us unaffected by trauma take for granted. Additionally, I cover how employing theatrical tools, like improvisation and role play, can act as a beneficial treatment option for those who have suffered a traumatic past. Drama therapy allows individuals to reconnect with their bodies and their minds, gain new perspectives on their experiences, and come to terms with their holistic self. Trauma affects people around us more than we realize. One in five Americans have been molested, one in four grew up in a family with alcoholics, one in three couples have experienced physical violence, and countless veterans and their families deal with the aftermath of combat (Van Der Kolk). In what ways do innovative treatments, like drama therapy, offer new roads to recovery and activate the brain’s natural plasticity? I study specific practices of drama therapy and public programs to see how using theatre as a tool builds communities and unites individuals whose lives have been scarred by trauma. I also examine empirical research on the impacts of drama therapy on different individuals to see what aspects of drama therapy have proven to be beneficial for patients and participants. Drama therapy provides a safe space for individuals in specific mental health and community settings to explore telling their stories, expressing their emotions, and finding new ways of looking at their situations, fostering a greater understanding of their experiences, as well as improved interpersonal relationships.


Presented at the Fall 2019 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.