When you think of going to see a therapist, you might imagine sitting on a couch or talking to somebody on a computer about your feelings. In reality, being “in therapy” can mean different things.
There are many ways to get mental health treatment. Some of them are more talk-therapy oriented, while others are more experiential. You might be doing behavioral therapy, which is about changing your actions. Perhaps you are talking about your childhood trauma. Then different types of treatment are more experiential.
Here is how therapy can be an artistic, creative, and even theatrical experience. If you think about it, therapy is about learning about yourself, changing your behavior, or accepting what you cannot change. These are all elements of theater. Here’s how therapy and theater are more connected than you might imagine
The roots of theater and emotions
During the time of ancient Greece, the Greeks explored emotions through the exposition of tragedy. The roots of therapy can be traced back to the Greek expression of emotions in psychodrama.
Think of the deep-rooted themes in Oedipus, Antigone, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone. These are heartbreaking tragedies that evoke real human emotions; the experiences of theater lead people to look inward and process their feelings. People act out real situations that they were going through in their life. It was a way to express feelings. The same can go for therapy.
Whatever you are experiencing in your life, you can act it out or use a technique called “role-playing.” You and your therapist will come up with challenging scenarios where you can explore various complex feelings and develop coping skills. Engaging in the theater is a way to work through challenging emotions.
Gestalt therapy and role-playing
Gestalt therapy is a type of mental health treatment where you integrate body awareness with emotional mindfulness. Often, theatrical exercises are involved in the therapeutic process, such as talking to someone who isn’t there.
In gestalt therapy, there is the empty chair exercise. You pretend to speak to somebody when there is an empty chair in front of you. It’s just like acting and is incredibly cathartic because you are able to express your emotions and imagine the person you’re having trouble confronting is in front of you. You’re doing that in a safe space.
Sometimes it’s easier to release feelings when you are feeling safe. There’s no risk involved when you express your emotions and therapy. You can practice doing this and then be prepared for when you have to deal with the confrontation in “real life.”
Drama therapy is a specific form of mental health treatment where an individual acts out their emotional problems. They might do theater games or act out a scene based on what they’re struggling with in life.
There are many different ways that you can use drama or theater to process emotions. Another thing to remember is you don’t have to be an actor to be involved in drama therapy. You need to be willing to express your feelings in a creative way.
One aspect of drama therapy that is important is the willingness to try new things. You may do exercises that you’re not familiar with or you don’t know the purpose of, but being open to them will help you process your feelings.
Experiential therapy is a type of mental health treatment where patients reenact scenes from their real life. It can be helpful for people who need to feel their emotions in their body as well as the mind.
Experiential therapy is a form of drama therapy. It’s helpful for some people to experience emotions in a kinesthetic way. Experiential therapy can help people understand their feelings at the moment. You are putting yourself into a vulnerable emotional space where you can process these feelings.
You can read more about how experiencing your feelings in experiential therapy here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/exploring-experience-through-experiential-therapy/.
Regardless of what type of therapy you choose, it’s crucial to seek help for your mental health. The more we take care of your mental wellness, the more quality of life we will lead. Online therapy is an excellent place to talk about your feelings. Consider connecting with an online counselor and exploring experiential therapy!