Therapeutic Interventions

Dramatherapy

Sam's Journey


Children having Dramatherapy in SchoolThe headteacher of a primary school had tried everything to support a pupil we’ll call Sam, but he was now on the verge of permanent exclusion. Isolated at home and school, he had made no educational progress for a year.

The educational psychologist stated he had no learning difficulties and was aware of and understood behaviour strategies, but did not comply. He experienced difficulty in securing relationships with others. Mental health needs in the family, and emotional health needs of the child had to be met. Another headteacher suggested that our Emotional and Trauma Support team – ETS - might find a solution.

Challenge

ETS had to find a way to engage the parents, not only with the school but with each other and with the child. This was to be done collaboratively with the school – not for the school. Then to set up a bespoke intervention to implement a successful therapeutic process, linking all parties in a joined up and creative way, to produce change. Initially the child was reluctant to engage.

Action

A room was set up for therapy in school. The dramatherapist found ways to invite Sam to engage at his own pace, in a safe space. The therapeutic process offered the child the fluidity of the creative medium to work with, helping to build the therapeutic relationship. Alongside 20 individual therapy sessions, work was done with the child’s class teacher (for example weekly ‘catch-up’ meetings) and parents (helping them consider how the child might feel in certain situations). The therapist attended multi-agency meetings, he worked with one initial meeting and two common assessment framework meetings.

Working with parents and teacher allowed the child to see there was a network of non-threatening adults supporting him. It was important for him to see that not only was he changing, but also his teachers approach and his parents understanding of his emotional needs were changing as well. The significance of this cannot be underestimated.

Outcome

Children having dramatherapySam’s increased emotional well-being through the therapy led to his ability to engage in learning activities in the classroom. As he became confident in rehearsing within the sessions, changes seen in therapy started occurring outside - in the classroom and playground. He removed himself from situations before emotions escalated, and responded to the school’s behaviour strategy. He started to show increased empathy towards more vulnerable students and initiated conversations with staff, who feel he is easier to talk to and describe him as ‘lighter’.

The headteacher said that the intervention had had multiple benefits. For the first time, Sam’s parents were able to accept support from agencies. His teachers were delighted when he exceeded all their expectations and achieved significant academic progress they had not thought possible. In two terms he made 2 sub-levels of progress in English and 3 sub-levels progress in Maths.