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

Chapter: Aesthetics of Connection in the Performance of Lived Experience

I am delighted to have published a chapter in the edited volume Imagining Windmills: Trust, Truth and the Unknown in the Arts Therapies published by Routledge (2022).

The chapter investigates the capacity of aesthetics in the performance of lived experience to create an ontological connection between the performer and the witnessing spectator. It suggests that aesthetics in performance contributes to the emergence of alternative knowing spaces whereby we are able to understand ourselves in relation to others as performers or witnessing spectators. It explores aesthetics as a relational process that enables access to unknown truths and the unveiling of unsuspected imaginaries.

This investigation of aesthetics in the performance of lived experience is based on the findings of a performance-as-research study that had as its object the production of meaning in autobiographical performance in dramatherapy. This research adopted a relational paradigm through which meaning in performance emerges from the dialogical and embodied relationship between the performer and the witnessing spectator. The findings of the research revealed how aesthetics operates as a regulating mechanism between different lived experiences to create possibilities for renewed awareness, knowledge and change. The paper offers a discussion of this particular aspect of aesthetics in the performance of lived experience by referring to audio-visual excerpts of the research.

Two workshops

I am delighted to lead and facilitate two international workshops in the forthcoming months.

The first one entitled ‘Who is I? Who is You? A theatrical exploration of We’ at the 5th Conference of the European Federation of Dramatherapy in Prague in May 2021.

This workshop explores how individual subjectivity and identity, and its correlates of knowledge, awareness and meaning, is intertwined with alterity and relationality. It investigates the capacity of dramatherapy and other arts therapies to create a We experience that embraces the singularity and plurality of the I in relation to the You. The workshop uses as a starting point some of the poems in Knots by R. D. Laing to experientially investigate our embodied intersubjectivity, the mutual reflection of the I in the You, and its potential for a transformation into a We.

The second one entitled ‘Hands-On: Working Creatively with Implicit Memory in Trauma-Focused Dramatherapy‘ at the 16th International Arts Therapies Conference (ECArTE) in Vilnius in September 2021.

This workshop explores the centrality of the body in the expression and working through of unresolved traumatic memories. It investigates ways of working somatically with psychological trauma by focusing on one specific part of the body: the hands. In this workshop, the focus on hands and hand movements is priviledged to explore how trauma is imprinted in body memory, and how the body can effectively assist its healing. As the psychoanalyst Darian Leader (2017) suggests, ‘hands are sites of exchange’ between different psychological states that can facilitate the integration of traumatic memory.

The workshop considers how the embodied and aesthetic foundations of the arts therapies provide a particular fertile ground to think about and work though implicit memory. It is an invitation to reflect on how embodied integration in the arts therapies can effectively assist psychic and memory integration.

Outdoor Eco Expressive Arts Therapy

I am now offering therapy outdoors for those interested to explore themselves and their personal difficulties in relation to and in direct contact with the ecosystem.

The therapy consists in gaining renewed understanding of oneself and reaching new meanings through the wisdom and containment of nature.

For enquiries, email jfjacques14@gmail.com


I am currently developing an intersectional performance project based on the experience of being 50.

For that purpose, I am looking at interviewing for no more than 100 seconds 50 people in their 50s about being 50 (+). Interviews are carried out over Zoom. All interviews will be anonymised and participants will be invited to sign a consent form.

If you are in your 50s and willing to be interviewed, or if you know people who might be interested, please e-mail me at jfjacques14@gmail.com.

Thank you!


Covid-19 Online Support Group

Research indicates that the pandemic Covid-19 has a huge impact on our mental health because of confinement and social distancing, precarity and changes in living standards, increased stress and anxiety, and a situation of collective trauma and loss.
To respond to these challenges, I am starting a free weekly Covid-19 Online Support Group as a space of connection to share how the current crisis affects us psychologically and emotionally, and to share resources and strategies to increase our capacity of coping amidst the uncertainty.
This is a Zoom group starting Tuesday 14th April at 5.30pm until 6.30pm.
If interested, send me an e-mail at jfjacques14@gmail.com
An invitation to join the group will follow.

Celebration at The Pavilion

On the 18th July 2019, I produced and directed ‘Celebration’, an immersive performance based on the play by H. Pinter at The Pavilion in Bedford Park.

In this unique theatre experience, guests found themselves dining alongside other diners who celebrated a wedding anniversary. As the evening went on, the pretence that all is well was slowly uncovered as the awkwardness of their relationships got exposed in surreal table conversations.

Identification, Catharsis and Aesthetic Distance in the Performance of Lived Experience

I am honoured to present a paper on identification, catharsis and aesthetic distance in the performance of lived experience, at the forthcoming ECArTE (European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education) international conference in Alcalá de Henares between the 11th and 14th September 2019.

2019-conference-logo-for website

This is a summary of my paper:

The paper investigates the healing and transformative potential of the performance of lived experience in dramatherapy by particularly focusing on the relational dynamic between the performer and the spectator / witness. The paper aims at discussing how the encounter with an other as performer within the shared space of the performance of lived experience provides renewed ways of understanding oneself as witness. It argues that a recognition of and engagement with otherness and difference is an inescapable condition for self-actualisation. In the light of the theme of the conference, the paper aims at exploring how the relationality inherent to the performance of lived experience enables the access to unknown truths and the unveiling of unsuspected imaginaries.

The paper is based on the discussion of the findings of a performance-based research investigating the production of meaning in autobiographical performance in dramatherapy. One of the research findings reveals how the process of witnessing in autobiographical performance enables the connection with oneself through the connection and identification with the performed lived experience of others. This identification results in a singular process of transformation and catharsis described as the unlocking of emotional and embodied states. The paper will particularly attempt to understand this phenomenon by suggesting how the process of identification is regulated through the aesthetic distance of the performance to create possibilities for renewed awareness, knowledge and change. The paper will make use of visual extracts of the research to illustrate the discussion.


Dialogical reflection on a dramatherapy intervention

I have published in the 2019 April/May edition of Mental Health Nursing a piece of collaborative writing with an ex-client about his experience of dramatherapy.

This constitutes a unique piece of qualitative evaluation whereby the voices of the therapist and the client interact to complete the nature of their individual experience.

The article can be accessed by clicking on the following link.

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