Drama Therapy: An Interview With Zev Berkowitz
Drama therapy is the intentional and systematic use of drama and theatre processes to achieve healthy psychological growth and change. Zev Berkowitz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He explains that the general aims of a Drama therapy session include exploring ideas, issues and problems using drama-derived activities; expressing and exploring feelings, developing spontaneity and imagination and creativity, improving self-image and self-confidence, developing social and relationship skills.
Zev Berkowitz describes Drama therapy which involves several different forms of expression such as movement, voice work, body language and speech.
Drama therapy by Zev Berkowitz offers a variety of working methods that are applicable to a wide variety of clients. It can help the process of emotional growth through the development of trust, risk taking and the experience of different ways of being. The role of Zev Berkowitz is to provide a safe, supportive space to enable and encourage the client/s to express her/himself in whatever way they are able. Drama therapist’s work in a variety of settings including health, education, social and prison services, as well as in private practice. The playful and active approach makes it a very suitable intervention for adults and children with learning disabilities and autism.
The methods used in Zev Berkowitz‘s drama therapy include spontaneous and dramatic play, drama games, mime, role-play, scripts, masks, myths, stories, metaphor and symbolism. A dramatic talent is not necessary for participation. The emphasis is not on performance but on the experience of the group or individual. The role of the Drama therapist is to develop a program with appropriate aims, objectives and structures to meet the needs and abilities of the client/s.
Zev Berkowitz’s Drama therapy reaches far beyond a single discipline, drawing freely from concepts of psychology, theatre/drama, psychoanalytical theory, anthropology and theories of child development. We can go far back as ancient Greece to discover its roots where ancient forms of healing rituals and theatre performances influenced what we classify as drama therapy today.
Drama therapy in modern society began in Europe in the 19th century. The first recorded use of the word drama therapy was by Peter Slade, who in the 1930's referred to all forms of carefully applied Drama as drama therapy. By the 1960's in Britain, a remedial Drama Centre was set up by Sue Jennings and Gordan Wiseman to work with children and adults with a wide range of needs. The British Association of drama therapy was formed in 1976 and provided a professional base for those who had been using Drama in therapy and education since the early 1960’s. Drama therapists trained abroad began working in Ireland in the mid 1980's and the first training in drama therapy began in 2002 in NUI Maynooth.
Q; Do I need to be able to act to participate in drama therapy?
Zev; No. drama therapy helps people to use their creativity to work on issues that are important to them. It does this by using Dramatic and Theatrical processes which are explained to the client but you do NOT have to act to make use of drama therapy.
Q: Do I have to role play in front of other people?
Zev; No. You will not have to do anything you do not want to do. While drama therapy can involve the process of taking on roles - this is only done if the client wants to do this. There are many other ways in which drama therapy can work with a client. For example through story making, using scripts, movement, sound etc.
Q: Do I have to dress up?
Zev; No. Again. You do not have to do anything that you do not want to do. In Dramatherapy the methods used are chosen to suit the client and what he/she is comfortable with. The use of costume and dressing up will only be used where appropriate and so long as the client is happy to do so.
Q: Is drama therapy always done in a group?
Zev; No. Dramatherapy can be done with individuals and in a group setting.
Q: Will I have to speak or perform?
Zev; Drama therapy is psychotherapy through the medium of drama. Obviously, for the client to benefit communication is essential. However, one of the advantages of drama therapy is that it offers the client a range of communication opportunities - through movement, sound, facial expression, role, and creative imagination. The client will not be asked to do anything they do not wish to do – including performing.
Article on alternative therapies
When you think of psychotherapy, the first image that comes to mind might be one of a distressed patient lying on a couch, talking, while a desk-bound therapist takes notes. But while traditional talk therapy can help people struggling with depression, anxiety and the stresses of daily life, the latest research on the brain and the mind-body connection has sparked a proliferation of approaches that may reach deeper levels of emotional healing than talking alone.
“Talk therapy is actually a little removed," says Dr. Martin Rossman, clinical professor at UC San Francisco Medical School. "A story might relate some of our disturbing experiences, but it can distance us from real emotions and somatic [body] feelings."
Talking takes place in the cognitive, or "thinking," part of the brain, and our thoughts are often the problem, adds Wolf Mehling, a physician at UCSF's Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. To help combat negative or obsessive thinking, many new therapeutic approaches focus on letting go of thoughts and becoming anchored into bodily sensations.
Though alternative treatments will probably never replace traditional talk therapy, new psychotherapeutic approaches can be used in conjunction with talk therapy to help people achieve optimal mental health, says Don Hanlon Johnson, professor of somatic psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.
The bottom line, says Johnson, is that "we need all the help we can get. If you look at the entire population, what helps one person doesn't always help another. So we need many avenues to psychological, physical and spiritual well-being."
Alternative treatments run the gamut from techniques that are championed by mainstream mental health professionals to practices that are more in the "fringe" realm of meridian-tapping and energy work. Here is a glimpse into four of the more widely accepted nontraditional approaches, each with an element of mind-body awareness:
Mindfulness practice: Yochanan Berkowitz
What it is: Rooted in Buddhist meditation techniques, mindfulness practice has become accepted among many Western mental health professionals as a powerful psychological tool. The practice is usually taught in a group, in which people learn to focus on their breath and body sensations in moment-to-moment awareness.
How it can help: Studies have demonstrated that it can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety and that it may help prevent depression relapse. It's also been shown to reduce feelings of stress and loneliness, help manage chronic pain and increase success rates of addiction recovery.
What the experts say: "Focusing on the present moment eliminates ruminating thoughts based on past experiences or anxiety about the future," says Mehling. "You allow yourself to get space between the perception and your interpretation. It helps you to distinguish thoughts from reality." This process can also help with impulse control, Johnson says.
"Many problems are rooted in the fact that we're dissociated and unaware of our bodily response to things. People aren't aware of harmful impulses until they get out of hand. So mindfulness practice is about teaching people to slow down and notice when impulses arise."
Guided imagery: Yochanan Berkowitz
What it is: Guided imagery is a mind-body technique that teaches people to use their imaginations to achieve a relaxed, focused state. Under the guidance of a therapist or CD, listeners use their senses to evoke positive, safe, relaxing images.
How it can help: The idea is that the body and mind will respond to images as if they are reality. If you imagine sucking on a lemon, chances are your mouth will water as if you are actually tasting a lemon. Much in the same way, people respond to comforting or relaxing images by experiencing feelings of increased well-being.
Research has shown that people who practice guided imagery have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and an overall decrease in depression, anxiety and fatigue. Guided imagery may also help motivate people to make positive life changes, such as losing weight or starting an exercise routine.
What the experts say: "The ability of imagery to connect with emotions -- the way an experience actually feels in the body -- is what makes it such a great therapeutic tool," says Rossman, who explains that images can be powerful catalysts for psychological change because they are formed in the more primal, emotional parts of the brain. He adds, "Imagery is the natural language of the unconscious mind -- and it's the unconscious mind that we need to deal with in deep psychotherapy."
Zev Yochanan Berkowitz
According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2010 a staggering 30.1 million adults in the UK (60 per cent) accessed the Internet almost every day. Continuing advances in technology now mean that more people than ever before are able use the Internet extensively for both work and social purposes, and research and communication which previously would have been time consuming now takes just a matter of minutes.
Popularity of the Internet: Zev Yochanan Berkowitz
The use of social networking sites (Facebook, Myspace, Friends etc.) is becoming increasingly popular, with 43 per cent of Internet users posting messages to social networking sites, chat sites and blogs in 2010. This activity has proven to be most common among Internet users aged between 16 and 24, of whom 75 per cent posted messages and 50 per cent uploaded self-created content in 2010. Though social networking is an activity heavily associated with younger generations, in 2010 31 per cent of Internet users aged between 45 and 54 used the Internet to post messages.
Whilst it is a positive step that we can now talk, search, shop, play, find love and experience all of the other far reaching benefits of the Internet, as with everything in life, there can't be a positive without a negative. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is the term used to describe excessive computer use which begins to interfere with daily life. As it stands, IAD is not officially recognized as a clinical disorder, though an increasing body of research and evidence is establishing internet addiction as a public health concern, with many leading health experts now advising it be officially recognized as a clinical disorder.
The condition exists in many subtypes, all of which are essentially characterized by excessive, overwhelming or inappropriate use of online activities, which if done in person would usually be considered negative. For example, compulsive gambling, shopping, pornography use or gaming.
Types of addiction: Zev Yochanan Berkowitz
Internet addiction disorder covers a variety of compulsive Internet activities including the following:
Cybersex and pornography
Though the Internet is often a great way of escaping reality, spending excessive amounts of time on the Internet engaging in cybersex, viewing pornography, spending time in adult chat rooms or carrying out relationships in online fantasy worlds can begin to have negative repercussions on an individuals real life relationships.
On the World Wide Web we are able to change our identity, remain anonymous and engage in fantasies all from the privacy of our own homes. Whilst this is fine in moderation, compulsively participating in any of these activities can lead to individuals neglecting their real life relationships, career and emotional well-being.
The Internet is a great way to meet and interact with new people and may even lead to the development of a romantic relationship. However, online relationships are often far more intense than those in reality and there is opportunity to live out our ultimate fantasies. A huge problem with online relationships is that many people online lie about their sex, age, appearance, relationship status and job, meaning that when online friends meet in real-life, unfortunately they may not live up to one another’s online persona resulting in significant emotional distress.
According to the Gambling Commission there are an estimated 236,000 to 378,000 problem gamblers in Britain. Whilst problem gambling has been an issue for a number of years now and there are many associations and support groups offering help and advice, the ease and availability of gambling online has made it more accessible than ever. In addition, recovering gambling addicts may also find it far more difficult not to relapse with the temptation of 24 hour online casinos which are open to anyone of any age. In addition, the financial problems brought on by online gambling can also result in stress, anxiety and depression.
Many individuals find enjoyment in playing online role playing games in their leisure time, and not everyone who does this is an addict. The vast majority of online gamers are able to strike a balance between gaming, work, friends and family, but unfortunately for some the compulsion to play online games becomes uncontrollable meaning that other areas of real life are neglected.
Online shopping or auction shopping can be just as financially detrimental as online gambling if a habit gets out of control. Shopping addicts have a tendency to purchase things they don't really need and can't really afford but they do so in order to experience the temporary high of placing a winning bid or owning something new.
Internet addiction symptoms: Zev Yochanan Berkowitz
Each and every one of us will use the Internet in our own way for different purposes and for varying amounts of time. Some individuals who use the Internet for work purposes may choose not to dedicate much of their leisure time to web browsing. Others will use occasionally, for instance for a once weekly food shop, others will use weekly perhaps for reading their favourite online paper or blog, and others will use social networking sights daily for keeping in touch with friends and family.
Internet usage only becomes a problems when it begins to take up too much of your time, to the point where you start to neglect whats going on in real-life.
There are various symptoms of Internet addiction, and each individual is likely to experience a different set. However, below are some key indicators to be aware of:
• Losing track of time - Many Internet addicts find that they lose themselves when they are online and as a result consistently spend longer online than initially intended.
• Social isolation - Cracks in your real-life relationships may indicate that you are spending so much time focussing on Internet relationships and activities that you are neglecting the current real-life relationships you have with family and friends. Some individua ls may also find that they feel their online friends 'understand' them in a way that no one in real-life can.
• Temporary high - As with any addiction, individuals keep returning for their next 'fix' because it gives them the feeling of euphoria and excitement. If you tend to rely heavily on the Internet for stress relief purposes as a pick-me-up or for sexual gratification then it could be a sign of a deeper underlying issue.
• Feelings of guilt and defensiveness - If you are feeling guilty and constantly trying to justify the amount of time spent on the Internet, or if you are lying about or trying to hide what you do online then this could be an indicator of Internet addiction.
• Physical symptoms - Aside from the emotional aspects, excessive computer addiction also causes some physical side effects and discomfort including strained vision, back ache, neck ache, headaches, sleep difficulties, carpal tunnel syndrome and weight gain or loss.
Internet addiction causes: Zev Yochanan Berkowitz
As mentioned throughout this fact-sheet, escapism is a factor which draws many people to the Internet. Anyone wanting to relieve the stresses, strains and issues which are present in their everyday life can use the Internet as an outlet for these negative feelings as it can provide temporary comfort, company, and entertainment.
Certain individuals may find themselves at a greater risk of becoming addicted to the Internet, for example those who engage in little social activity may try to build new relationships and relate to others by using chat rooms etc. Below are additional factors which may increase a persons risk of developing an Internet addiction:
• Other Addictions - Individuals who are addicted to gambling and sex for instance (or recovering) may turn to the Internet to fulfil their needs.
• Depression - Depression can lead to Individuals turning to the Internet to escape their negative feelings.
• Anxiety - People suffering from anxiety may feel drawn to the Internet as it is a way of distracting themselves from any fears and worries they may have.
• Social mobility - If a person suddenly finds themselves less active than they used to be (for instance recovering from a serious illness) and it is difficult to leave the house or meet up with family and friends then they may go online to seek additional social interaction.
Internet addiction help: Zev Yochanan Berkowitz
There are many addiction services and avenues of treatments available to help individuals back on the road to good health, one of which is counselling.
The ultimate goal of counselling is to help individuals either reduce or stop their addiction all together, depending on their specific needs and goals. Though each counsellor will have their own unique way of working, sessions may involve exploring different ways of dealing with certain urges and triggers and exploring the origins of the problem and the underlying reason for your addiction. A counsellor may also use a technique known as cognitive-behavioural therapy, which is a way of changing an individuals thoughts and behaviours surrounding a certain act or issue.Counselling is a safe and confidential way of exploring your addiction and the affect it is having on your well-being and fulfilment. A counsellor will work with you to help you make sense of your circumstances, to identify your choices for change and to offer support throughout the entire process.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Whilst there are currently no official rules and regulations in position to stipulate what level of training and experience a counsellor dealing with Internet addiction needs, we do recommend that you check your therapist is experienced in this area.
An accredited course, qualification or workshop undertaken as part of continuing professional development, will also provide further assurance that your counsellor has developed the necessary skills.
In regards to psychological treatment, as with other addictions, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is considered a useful tool to break the habit of addiction.
About Zev Yochanan berkowitz
A longtime social worker with many years of experience, Zev Yochanan Berkowitz currently works in private practice in Teaneck, New Jersey. He works with families and individuals of all ages and focuses his practice on mood disorders, trauma and sexual abuse, ADHD, addictions, and PTSD couples counseling. Jonathan Berkowitz specializes in a number of effective therapies, including play therapy for children, cognitive behavioral therapy for teens and adults, and Imago couples therapy. Before entering private practice, Zev Yochanan Berkowitz spent more than a decade as a school psychologist and school social worker with the Board of Education in Brooklyn, New York. In this capacity, he oversaw a caseload of 40 to 70 students and conducted a wide range of meetings with students, parents, and administrators. He also developed a number of behavior modification plans and tested children using various evaluation materials. Jonathan Berkowitz holds a master of clinical social work from New York University and a master of science in school psychology from Long Island University.
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