Dramatherapy uses role play, voice work, movement and storytelling to help clients explore and solve personal and social problems.

Working life

You'll use the healing aspects of drama and theatre to help people explore and reflect on their feelings. You'll offer people the opportunity to change by experimenting with different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

You may use puppets, masks or stories to help their clients. Another technique is role play where clients can try out alternative behaviours and strategies. Clients learn more about their own behaviour and reactions to other people. This helps them to understand social situations and deal with them more assertively.

You'll create a secure environment which helps people have some fun while building their self awareness and self confidence.

You'll work with people of all ages - children, young people adults and the elderly. Your clients may have a range of difficulties such as emotional, behavioural or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting conditions, neurological conditions or physical illnesses. You'll also work in a variety of settings, such as:

  • the NHS
  • social services
  • education (primary, secondary, further and special education)
  • prisons
  • private practice

You'll work one to one or in groups, depending on the needs of the client. You may work with other professionals including medical and healthcare staff, teachers or prison and probation staff.

How to become a dramatherapist 

You need to do an approved full or part time Masters degree in dramatherapy and then register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).  

Entry requirements

You'll usually need a degree-level qualification in drama or in a psychological health related subject as well as some professional or voluntary experience in a therapy or a healthcare setting. Alernatively, you could have a relevant professional qualification, such as nursing, teaching, occupational therapy or social work.

You may be accepted onto a course without a degree or professional qualification if you have at least one year’s work experience with a relevant client group. Examples include nursing assistant, drama worker with people with special needs or support worker in mental health.

You'll need to show that you have practical experience in drama.

Degree apprenticeship

A level 7 apprenticeship for arts therapists, including art therapists/art psychotherapists, dramatherapists and music therapists is available but opportunities are currently limited. You'll need to apply for an apprentice position with a health care provider. You can search for vacancies on the NHS Jobs website and Find an Apprenticeship website.

Skills and personal qualities

You'll need to be:

  • creative, flexible and resourceful
  • resilient in dealing with other people’s strong emotions
  • sensitive and mature
  • able to show theatre skills and ideas 
  • able to improvise 
  • communicate clearly with a wide range of people  
  • able to reflect on your emotions

Where the role can lead 

You could specialise to work with a particular type of client such as children, the elderly or offenders. Or you could become a specialist in a particular issue such as dementia, mental health or palliative care.

You could decide to become self-employed and build up a private practice. You could do this alongside employed work.

With experience, you could become a senior or consultant dramatherapist, managing the work of a team of therapists. You could become the head of an arts therapy department, coordinating the work of therapists from other disciplines such as music or art therapy. You might also train other dramatherapists.

Pay and benefits

Most dramatherapists in the NHS work part-time hours and posts typically start at band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay rates. You’ll also have access to our generous pension scheme and health service discounts, as well as 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.

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