The Drama Therapy Decision Tree (Book)

Connecting Drama Therapy Interventions to Treatment

Provides a model for therapeutic decision-making by deconstructing the processes of drama therapy. Looks at creating effective treatment plans by integrating information about clients’ symptoms and phase of therapy with the core concepts inherent in all drama therapy approaches. Includes theory and examples of specific drama therapy interventions.

Category: Performing Arts


This book provides the reader with a thorough understanding of drama therapy methods through the provision of examples so therapists can select the most appropriate methods and apply them themselves.  The authors provide a common language for communicating what drama therapists do in terms of diagnoses and interventions, especially for new students in the field.

There has been no systematic method developed for drama therapists and drama therapy students for selecting the most appropriate drama therapy technique or method for clients. Typically, students leave university and have to work out how to plan treatment through trial and error. This book is not intended as an instruction manual, but the authors of this book have identified and analysed how they approached this task themselves, and they explain how the theory learnt at university can be put into practice. Their desire is to give early career drama therapy professionals a reliable and effective tool for making the best clinical decisions they can. This book is not only an educational tool, but also a practitioner’s reference tool for planning how to address the socio-emotional needs of their clients. Readers will find this timely book offers structure to drama therapy teachers and students alike.  

It explains the basic tools that drama therapists use in all therapy situations, starting with the therapeutic process, then moves on to identify the core healing concepts that make drama therapy so powerful and unique. The diagnostic systems used by all mental health professionals (DSM-5 and ICD-11) are integrated by relating the core healing concepts and tools to the symptoms of diagnoses. The basic treatment planning process is also discussed. The book then explains how these components are used together systematically through a series of questions (that the therapist asks themself) in order to identify the most appropriate type of intervention for the client. Finally, the book offers several examples of how this system can be applied to a variety of common diagnoses. The appendices provide resources about drama therapy in terms of theory, approach and specific population.

Of primary relevance to teachers and students of drama therapy, and drama therapists and integrative arts therapists in training and early career stages. May be useful for other professionals interested in drama therapy and related creative or therapeutic practices where theatre and drama are used.

Note: in the US context there is a wider range of related practices, which are often regarded as part of drama therapy.

Sally Bailey is Professor of Theatre and Director of the Drama Therapy Program at Kansas State University. She is a recipient of the North American Drama Therapy Association's Teaching Excellence Award, Service Award, and Gertrud Schattner Award.

Paige Dickinson is associate professor in the Creative Arts Collegium at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her research focus is on pedagogy and professional development in the field of drama therapy. She is the recipient of the John Satterfield Outstanding Mentor Award.

Prologue: The Need for this Book

Chapter One: Foundational Principles of the Therapeutic Process

Chapter Two: Foundational Principles of Drama Therapy

Chapter Three: Diagnoses and Global Issues in Drama Therapy Treatment Planning

Chapter Four: The Drama Therapy Decision Tree, Part One: A Systematic Method of Drama Therapy Treatment Planning

Chapter Five: The Drama Therapy Decision Tree, Part Two: A Systematic Method of Drama Therapy Intervention Choices

Chapter Six: The Drama Therapy Decision Tree: Part Three: Drama Therapy Treatment Evaluation

Chapter Seven: Issues of Diversity and Adaptations for Diagnoses and Individuals

Chapter Eight: Ethical Issues

Appendix A: The Drama Therapy Decision Tree

Appendix B: Treatment Outcome - Intervention Suggestions

“A book that explains and teaches how to apply drama therapy with the understanding of diagnosis, phases, interventions and assessments is a first in our field and much needed. Treating from a strengths-based approach, the authors have found a way to create bridges between various drama therapy methods that are applicable to the overall clinical approach of drama therapy—necessary for all drama therapy students.”

Myriam Savage Ph.D., RDT/BCT, Faculty, Expressive Arts Therapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies; director of the SoCal Drama Therapy Center

“This is a much-needed resource for early career drama therapy professionals as well as for drama therapy trainers and educators. The Drama Therapy Decision Tree provides a methodology for applying drama therapy tools and techniques, in a way that incorporates assessment tools from related fields and various drama therapy approaches. The method addresses crucial aspects regarding the client’s somatic, psychological, behavioral, and social contexts – some of which are often overlooked. Moreover, the Drama therapy Decision Tree furthers drama therapeutic thinking, which is particularly important in the early years of practice. An invaluable book!”

Dr Susana Pendzik, RDT, head of the therapeutic theatre track at the Theatre Studies Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“This is the book all therapists need to have by their side as a guide, a tool kit, and a touchstone for how to determine drama therapy treatment. These two experienced professors masterfully explain and break down the complex process of clinical decision-making. The fact that this book includes not only the individual diagnosis and symptoms, but the larger influences of culture, society, and ethics, makes it a necessary companion for all those in the helping profession.”

Yehudit Silverman M.A., R-DMT, RDT, former chair and professor emerita, Creative Arts Therapies Department, Concordia University; author of The Story Within – myth and fairy tale in therapy; Documentary Filmmaker

“Paige Dickinson and Sally Bailey have written a must-read guide to therapeutic decision-making that will be enormously useful to drama therapy students and practitioners.”

Nisha Sajnani, PhD. RDT-BCT, director, graduate program in drama therapy, New York University
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