Dramatherapy performance and schizophrenia
This research project examines the impact of therapeutic performance-making within Dramatherapy practice for clients with schizophrenia. 'Dramatherapy Performance', a specific model of therapeutic work which is defined and presented here, consists of the clients' construction of a performance through a therapeutic process and its presentation to an invited audience of their Significant Others. The context of existing evaluation methods in Dramatherapy concerns either the development of the clients' abilities within a group process, such as role-playing or dramatic involvement, or the change of the clients' symptoms after a groupwork as measured by existing psychometric scales. However, no specific method of evaluation of performance-making to be used within clinical practice has been constructed yet. For this reason a new instrument for evaluating this model of work was formulated, namely the 'Dramatherapy Performance Evaluation', which derives from a combination of psychiatric and theatre semiotics. This instrument is inspired by Aristotle's 'Poetics', used for the first time for assessment in Dramatherapy and analyses the structural elements of a performance in relation to the clients' schizophrenic psychopathology. Furthermore, this project examines the effect of a 'Dramatherapy Performance' on the clients' overall psychopathology, and their relationship to self and others. A clinical trial conducted in a Day Hospital for young adult clients with schizophrenia allowed a qualitative evaluation of the therapeutic process as well as quantitative measurements of the clients' symptom change. The outcomes of this project suggest that 'Dramatherapy Performance' has a significant effect on the clients' dramatic involvement within the group process, on the decrease of their overall 'negative symptomatology', on increasing their 'competence and efficacy' and on changing their perceived support from their significant others. The 'Dramatherapy Performance Evaluation' showed the importance of the performance's unifying cathartic structure as well as demonstrating how non-verbal therapeutic processes reinforce the impact of verbal processes. It also distinguished the usefulness of collective techniques - such as participation in a chorus - for the less functional clients as opposed to character work for the more functional clients. This research confirms the value of 'Dramatherapy Performance' as a treatment for specific schizophrenic symptoms, in addition to medication, and provides Dramatherapy practice with a new and useful instrument for the evaluation of both the therapeutic process and the progress of clients with schizophrenia.