Routledge International Handbook of Dramatherapy (2016)
Eds. Sue Jennings and Clive Holmwood.
Routledge: Oxon and NY.

Chapter 22:

Stevie and the little Dinosaur: a story of assessment in dramatherapy by Sarah Mann Shaw.

This chapter explores assessment as a core element of the dramatherapy process, seeking to understand how our assessment processes contributes to understanding a client’s condition.

It follows the story of Stevie, who had been adopted at 8 years of age and was struggling to create an attachment with his adoptive parents. He was referred to dramatherapy as social workers felt that the creative process offered would not overwhelm an already agitated and mistrustful internal world.

This chapter explores how dramatherapists make sense of the explicit information, the reason for the referral, presenting difficulties, birth and adoption story from what is known and coherently understood, and the implicit story that which is held by the body. It follows a process of embodiment, projection, and role through 8 sessions of dramatherapy and two parental consultations. The story created by Stevie to give form to feeling is shared in the text.

Reader Comments

Arts Therapies in International Practice. Informed by Neuroscience and Research. (2022)
Eds. Caroline Miller and Mariana Torkington.
Routledge: Oxon and New York.

‘The development in thinking and practise of neuroscience is exciting for a number of reasons, not least because of it’s impact on the arts therapies. The book contains a treasure trove of writing, encompassing the work of a variety of creative arts practitioners and is inspiring and uplifting…” Dr Elizabeth Combes – Insert Book Cover.

Chapter 2:

Exploring implicit memory through metaphor: Jonah and the missing heart: a story of attachment and dramatherapy by Sarah Mann Shaw.

This chapter explores how dramatherapy and metaphor work to enable clients to live in the present without being overwhelmed by events from the past. Jonah had experienced trauma and neglect, I worked with him using puppets and story to give voice to a story of a tiny puppet also called Jonah and his missing heart. Jonah’s adoptive mum was present in the sessions and developed a deeper appreciation for and of her son’s experiences before he came to her. We worked focusing on developmental, emotional, and neurological repair in a relational, playful and attuned way.

Reader Comments

Space, Place and Dramatherapy. International Perspectives (2024)
Ed: Eliza Sweeney
Routledge: Oxon and New York.

‘Space, Place and Dramatherapy provides radical, critical, and practical insights into the relevance and significance of space and place in dramatherapy. Bringing together an international breadth of contributors, the chapters of this book reveal extensive reflections on the many spaces in which dramatherapists and their clients work and offer research implications for those wishing to critically examine their own symbolic or structural spaces in dramatherapy practice.’

Chapter 6:  Connecting Spaces: Playing to relate by Sarah Mann Shaw

This chapter explores my work with Billie, an adopted child who was avoidant in their attachment style. worked to create a play space in which he could safely play and explore the poetry of making relationship (Meares 2016). I propose that dramatherapy, through the provision of a play space, can enable an exploration and a balancing of experience, thus supporting a different relational pattern. Contact is a primary motivating experience, without reciprocity in relationship the infant’s sense of self and other is significantly compromised. In playing a child learns to express themselves freely and discover self. In feeling safe and creatively engaged relationship can be explored.

Reader Comments

I found it very readable, whilst still being theoretically robust. I liked how early on, in the section ‘Trauma’, you lay out exactly what your approach is going to be by talking about the Dramatherapist attending to the developmental nature of play, the developmental vs chronological age of the client – and their relationship to play. As I read that I thought, ok – I know what territory I’m going to be in with this – what basic position you were taking – and testing.

I also really liked the practical detail about how you planned and conducted the sessions – I think that gives such a valuable insight into the ‘but what do you actually do?’ question, and I was going to say that I wanted to know even more about your role in Billy’s sessions – until I got to the penultimate paragraph and there it was! The nature of our work is such that we can never really know what each of us does ‘in the room’, but you offer a generous insight into this.

The other thing I really appreciated was the recognition of the passing of time by saying which session it was, up to 28 and the detail that you worked with Billy for a year – it’s good to see it acknowledged that this work takes a long time ….!

I wondered whether it would be helpful to have spelt out Parten’s 6 stages – but people can look that up for themselves, and I also wanted to know a bit more about how mum’s role developed (if at all) in the room, and what changes she noticed in Billy – but it’s good to leave people wanting more!

Kate Dramatherapist.

Trauma and Embodied Healing in Dramatherapy, Theatre and Performance. (2024)
Ed J.F. Jacques.
Routledge: Oxon and New York

‘…Collating voices from across fields of dramatherapy, theatre and performance, this book examines how different interdisciplinary and intercultural 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. The diverse chapters highlight how the intersection between dramatherapy, and performance offers additional opportunities to explore and understand the creative, expressive and imaginative capacity of the body, and its application to the healing of trauma.’

Practice and Research Perspectives: Chapter 9.

The Girl at Christmas Cottage: An Embodied Experience of Making Theatre in Individual Dramatherapy with an Adopted Child by Sarah Mann Shaw.

This chapter explores creating a piece of theatre in dramatherapy as a way of exploring a young person’s somatised experience of early childhood trauma. The co construction of theatre in dramatherapy engages the traumatised self in a safe and exploratory way, It engages implicit and explicit memory through metaphor.

In working the significance of key relational neurological process between therapist and client are explored, relating these to forms of communication that can repair the continued impact of early trauma experiences on the here and now. This chapter explores through a case study how theatre making in dramatherapy is a relational process with healthy therapeutic outcome.

Reader Comments

“Sarah has an accessible writing style, warm, honest and kind. Her understanding and investment in this therapeutic relationship shone through every page. Sarah should feel so proud of the work she does and the difference to have made to vulnerable clients lives over her years as a therapist.
Gwyneth: Community Psychiatric Nurse and Artist

“I really enjoyed reading this: it is so important; this work is valuable and dramatherapists need to do more to get it recognised… we have a unique position when it comes to story and embodied experience – pre-verbal trauma. Accessing the feelings of loss which are hidden under so much else.  
Thank you for putting it into words – I know this is not easy to do when we are talking about processes that have no words.
Sarah: Dramatherapist

“Great Chapter! Immensely readable. It deals with themes and concepts that could be impenetrable to a casual reader and the writer makes it engaging and enjoyable. I am now much clear on the concept of mirror neurons, for example. Fab!
Chris: Team Manager – Learning Support.

“Found it absolutely riveting.  It was so dense and complex but, at the same time, so easy to understand.
Maggie – retired residential social worker