Behaviour

4th November 2005 at 00:00
DRAMATHERAPY: DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL STABILITY. By Penny McFarlane. David Fulton. pound;18

This manual is aimed at non-specialist teachers and other professionals supporting children with emotional and behavioural needs. It lucidly presents a therapeutic approach for using drama to promote self-esteem, with principles and strategies underpinned with theory. Models for practice are derived from psychoanalysis and the developmental frameworks of Piaget and Erikson.

Themes addressed include the therapeutic relationship (issues of trust and confidentiality), significance of metaphor and symbols, recurrent themes and archetypes in traditional tales, dreams, loss and bereavement.

Particular emphasis is given to the value of personal storytelling. A lengthy central chapter details 16 case studies of children aged between six and 13, each with a key issue in their background (for example, bullying and victimisation, neglect and domestic violence). These illustrate how through role play children may reach deeper understandings, with additional suggestions for supporting activities and exercises.

While a fascinating reminder of the power of drama, this is a book for more experienced practitioners looking for strategies to support individual children's personal and social adjustment. They may find potential in harnessing ideas within their more familiar use of drama-in-education as a learning medium, especially in developing work from story as a safe context for exploring universal issues and themes.

Melanie Peter

Senior lecturer, Anglia Polytechnic University

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