Embodied Healing and Trauma

I am delighted to be the editor of an interdisciplinary book on ‘Trauma and Embodied Healing in Dramatherapy: Theory, Practice and Research’ due to be published by Routledge in Spring 2023.

This book aims at bringing together voices from international scholars, researchers, practitioners and clinicians in the field of dramatherapy and the associated disciplines of performance and theatre, to better understand how these different approaches offer unique and unexplored perspectives on the body as a medium for the exploration, expression and resolution of chronic, acute and complex trauma, as well as collective and intergenerational trauma in different cultural contexts.

The links between traumatic experiences and the body are now well documented and researched. Established authors and clinicians in the fields of neuroscience, somatic psychotherapy and psychology have contributed to significant advances in the understanding of how the body and the nervous system respond to, internalise, store and speak the trauma. The somatic of trauma translates ways in which the body retains emotions and traumatic memories cut off from cortical and verbal processing. The work of healing consists in supporting the body to self-regulate as well as working through the sensorimotor imprints of the trauma towards psychosomatic integration. Advances in the fields of dance movement and body psychotherapy have also reflected pioneering ways of using the body as a medium for expression and healing following traumatic experiences. The emphasis on kinaesthetic and embodied relational practice has significantly contributed to a better understanding of the links between embodiment and trauma.

The somatic of trauma tells us that if the trauma is locked in the body, the body is also the key that can unlock the legacy of the traumatic event(s). As primarily a form of embodied therapy using the emotional and cognitive capacity of the body, dramatherapy offers additional opportunities to think somatically about trauma. Yet, literature on the use of the body in the healing of trauma in dramatherapy, the integration with other somatic approaches, and the similarities and differences between these remain scarce.

Equally, the intersection of dramatherapy and body-based approaches in theatre and performance on the fabric and potential of the body to translate, generate and rework emotional states and memories, also remains largely under researched. The link between these disciplines offers additional fertile grounds to further explore and understand the creative, expressive and imaginative capacity of the body, and its application to the healing of trauma. The works of Chekhov, Lecoq, Grotowski, Meyerhold, Artaud or Copeau for instance provide additional opportunities to discover the language and history of the body, its emotional expressiveness through physicality, gesture and movement, and its potentiality for healing and repair.

This edited volume on trauma and embodied healing aims at addressing a significant gap in the existing literature by providing a rigorous investigation on the intersection of dramatherapy, trauma, body, brain, theatre and performance.

The book intends to reflect a wide, diverse and intercultural perspective on the intersections of the body, trauma, healing and theatre. Contributors will reflect a variety of cultural and social backgrounds, traditions and practices in these fields

Author: J. F. Jacques

expressive arts therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant, theatre director, performance maker, trainer