McKenna and Haste (1999) Clinical Effectiveness of Dramatherapy in the Recovery from Neuro-Trauma

literature type:

journal article


Pat McKenna and Eileen Haste. Disability and Rehabilitation. 1999; Vol. 21, Issue 4: pp 162-74.


To investigate the clinical effectiveness of a short course of dramatherapy (an eclectic term encompassing all the arts therapies), delivered in a one-to-one interaction, in a sample of 10 patients in a neuro-rehabilitation unit.

Each participant received five individual one-to-one sessions of therapy over a 5 week period. A semi-structured interview was carried out with each participant following the course.

Qualitative analysis of the taped interviews elicited how the therapy contrasted and complemented the rest of the rehabilitation setting and therapies and how it helped psychological adjustment to severe disabilities resulting from neurotrauma. There were four ways in which it appeared to empower the participants and nurture their self esteem. It provided them with a sense of personal space in an otherwise institutional setting; it allowed escapism and enjoyment; it awakened creativity and a sense of potency; and it provided a metaphor to explore personal issues.

Dramatherapy made an important contribution to the healthy adjustment of some patients both to hospital life and to acquired disability. The reports from the patients indicated that this approach to rehabilitation should be further incorporated and developed in neuro-rehabilitation.


arts categories:

theater arts

population(s) served: