Drama Therapy

Drama therapy is the intentional use of drama and/or theatre processes to achieve therapeutic goals.

It is a uniquely active and experiential approach that skillfully combines theater and psychotherapy that aims to facilitate change, uncover and express feelings, and, as appropriate, achieve catharsis in order to resolve problematic patterns and emotional issues. Through a multitude of various drama and theatre process techniques, such as: storytelling, projective play, games, purposeful improvisation, psychodrama, facilitated enactments of real situations, scenework, ritual and performance, participants are invited to rehearse desired behaviors, practice being in relationship, expand and find flexibility between life roles, and perform the change they wish to be and see in the world.

Drama therapy provides participants with a safe, yet stimulating context in which the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced. The simultaneously active and reflective factors of drama therapy help people to integrate emotional, cognitive, and physical levels of experience, while the perspective-inducing elements help participants move out of rigid roles and discover more satisfying ways of relating with others.

Drama therapy is adaptable, takes on many forms—depending on individual and group needs and does not require participants to have any previous acting or theater experience.


Self-Revelatory Performances


"Self-Rev" (for short)

Self-rev performances are original theatre pieces where the client/actor explores, grapples with, and aspires towards healing a current life-challenge. Unlike autobiographical theatre, which focuses more on recounting life experience, self-revs involves real-time "working through" of psychological wounds. The actor uses drama therapy methods in creating the piece and within the performance itself. The immediacy and authenticity of self-revs makes them compelling and moving theatre that often strikes universal chords in audience members.

"Aileen truly holds the self-rev process as a drama therapist, weaving together the therapy and the theatrical. She is extremely empathetic, comfortable with complexity, and a theatrical master! I appreciated how she guided me in the creative process: utilizing DvT, encouraging me to not edit until late in the process, helping keep track of all the ideas which had emerged, and acting as outside eye for the overall structure. I highly recommend working with Aileen as a self-rev director."

~ Rebecca Siegal

"Working with Aileen was wonderful (as I suspected it would be). She is very skilled at just being with the material, wherever it is--emotionally and in terms of trusting the creative process.  She is focused on the process (rather than the product) throughout, but she also has a keen eye for theatre and can always find a visionary and therapeutically-oriented solution to a practical/aesthetic issue.  She holds trauma with grace and humility and I am just a huge fan of hers. I cannot imagine being more satisfied with a director."

~ Amelia Kriss Calhoun

"The process of creating a self rev is a personal and therapeutic journey. I found myself in an altered space during and after rehearsal. Aileen was a supportive, tender drama therapist holding and guiding me through this rite of passage. Aileen is skilled in Developmental Transformations allowing freedom to explore themes and healing elements in the playspace. We were able to laugh and cry together while creating a powerful piece of artistic expression."

~ Marcia Aguilar Kailian

"With her clinical sensitivity and artistic sensibility, Aileen has directed beautiful Self-Revelatory performances. She fully grasps and embraces the essence of this form, and directs each piece with commitment and passion."

~ Renee Emunah, PhD

(Creator of Self-Revelatory Performances and Professor/Program Chair of the CIIS Drama Therapy Department)

"I was consistently impressed with each piece (Aileen) directed, noting the way she guided performers to contain their pieces within strong dramatic parameters and seamlessly blending moments of levity in with the challenging material... I feel a comfortability with Aileen that is perfectly balanced by the respect I feel for her, allowing her to be both a supportive figure and one with some authority."     

~ Morgan LeClaire

Lone Walk

"Like all playobjects, or toys, 
we eventually break, and are broken through mishandling by others.
We have missing parts, 
we can't turn
or talk like we used to, 
our batteries are low,
and buttons do not work.
Yet, though imperfect as we are, 
the desires for play overcomes, 
and we can be held and played with, 
be cared for and given pleasure to, 
and be kept in the playroom
or bedroom or toychest
for many years,
just as we hold our loved
but broken ones close to us.
This is what being here is all about."

~ David Read Johnson, PhD, creator of Developmental Transformations (DvT)


Aileen B. Cho, MA, RDT/BCT, CEDS, LMFT #93246

(323) 379-5299

P.O. Box 720077, San Francisco, CA 94172

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© 2020 by Aileen B. Cho Therapy. All rights reserved.