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USA: Healing Trauma Through Drama

Illustration by Gary Neill for Yes! Media

Blair Glaser, a Los Angeles–based leadership consultant and licensed creative arts therapist reflects on witnessing a powerful example of race-related healing in a psychodrama session in New York City in 1998. Quoting Drama Therapists Navah Steiner and Nisha Sajnani, she writes:

"...At the end of the psychodrama I took part in, the air in the room felt lighter. The therapist asked the witnesses to respond, and another person of color in the group shared a similar story of being dismissed by a teacher. Several white participants in the group reflected on their own biases. As we closed the exercise, the protagonist said, “Wow, I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. [...]

Navah Steiner, a nonbinary drama therapist who works within the LGBTQ community, says, “Not everyone had the luxury of being able to play as children, especially if [due to intergenerational trauma] they were abused or neglected. Drama therapy—more than talk—allows for humor, play, and the freedom of the full expression of being.”

Sajnani draws parallels between the drama therapy process and the social justice redemption process established in the mid ’90s by The New School professor and philosopher Nancy Fraser. Fraser’s three-part solution to social injustice includes recognition of the injustice, redistribution of resources that caused it, and representation—the ability to act as a political force or find political allies for instilling fairness. It’s easy to see how this theory manifested in that New York loft.

Through the protagonist’s confrontation in the psychodrama, we recognized his trauma, and through the accountability of the teacher and others, his pain was redistributed."

Read the full article by Glaser in Yes! Magazine here


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