Being a dramatherapist in times of darkness

I facilitated a workshop at the last European Federation of Dramatherapy’s Annual Conference in Ghent (Belgium) in April 2017.

The following video was created from the workshop participants’ reflections and thoughts as we explored together the significance of the world events on our lives as practitioners and citizens of the world.


This is how the workshop was presented in the conference programme:

The world stage has revealed over the last year a landscape of unprecedented uncertainties and threats to our shared humanity. The rise of the far right and populism across Europe, the normalisation of a rhetoric of exclusion and hatred, the crisis of representation within the European Union and within nation states, the austerity measures supporting neoliberal policies, the instability in the Middle East, and the rise to power of Donald Trump in the United States are only a few examples of what has been shaping our collective experience and consciousness. We face the challenges of an era whereby, as the Belgian playwright Michel de Ghelderode puts it, ‘one unstitches what is stitched’. The multiple instabilities, uncertainties and precarities of our present times penetrate deep into our individual psyche and who we are as clinicians and practitioners. It seems impossible and undesirable to separate the dramatherapy stage from the world stage.

This experiential workshop aims at exploring how the dramatic and unsettling events on the world stage have affected us and our identity as dramatherapists in Europe. The workshop will be articulated around three mains questions:

  • How do we understand our role as dramatherapist in these unsettling times?
  • How do we relate to the larger socio-political context and how do we integrate that dimension within our work?
  • How do we respond as dramatherapists to the widespread fears and anxieties felt across Europe and beyond?

The workshop will be using the symbolic of the ‘Arbre à palabres’ which, in Africa, is a traditional public space for people to debate on issues affecting their community. The workshop will offer a space for sharing, reflection and dialogue, but it will also be a space for spontaneous play and improvisation to help explore how we, as dramatherapists, relate to the world stage.


Author: J. F. Jacques

expressive arts therapist, clinical supervisor, somatic practitioner, consultant, author, trainer