Emunah (1985) Drama Therapy and Adolescent Resistance

literature type:

journal article


Renée Emunah. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 1985; Vol. 12, No. 1: pp 71-79.


Describes a group drama therapy program at a short-term youth center that specifically addresses the problem of treatment resistance (RS) in 13–17 yr old emotionally disturbed adolescents. Issues underlying adolescent RS and rebellion are discussed with reference to the profound physical, psychological, and cognitive changes that create uncertainty and instability during this time. However, adolescent RS to treatment can often be confused with age-appropriate and healthy rebelliousness. The drama therapy program attempts to support rebelliousness while minimizing treatment RS. Three phases of the program are described. In Phase 1, the therapist attempts to minimize the particularly acute RS by incorporating the adolescents' actual emotions (hostility, aggression) into exercises. During Phase 2, the therapist permits and encourages the adolescents' spontaneity and involvement in dramatic scenes or games. Phase 3 begins when their engagement is stable enough to sustain therapeutic direction without disruption or RS. While drama therapy may be seen as helping the client to benefit from other treatments or forms of psychotherapy, it may also be the treatment of choice for the resistant adolescent



arts categories:

theater arts

population(s) served: