A BAME businessman is smiling and having fun in Dramatherapy, as depicted in YTherapy's blogpost.

Dramatherapy for Men who Hate Counselling

Counselling is something more and more men are embracing. However, men don’t always want to talk about their feelings. So, could something like Dramatherapy be a solution for men who are not a fan of counselling? If this peaks your curiosity, read on.

It’s Movember this month. It’s also International Men’s Day on the 19th November.

The message is clear: men’s mental health matters.

It’s important for men to feel they can open up. As a society, we know there are consequences when feelings don’t get expressed. Men are more likely to suppress complex feelings and this can lead to anxiety, depression, stress, addiction, and suicide. So, keeping the lid on your ‘Pandora’s box’ may not be such a good idea after all.

Society and Masculinity

Society’s view of masculinity changes over time but essentially, continues to build an image of someone who is strong. But what does “strong” really mean? For some people, being strong means achieving physical strength and confidence. It may also mean being successful and well-liked. For others, strong means accepting failure and being openly sensitive. Maybe you are open with your emotions, transparent about your feelings. However, other people, like your family, peers and colleagues – are not. Sometimes it’s the experience of having others push their ideas of masculinity onto you that can make you close up.

Have you ever shared your feelings, opened up about something personal, and heard this back from someone?

“Oh, man up!”
“Men don’t cry.”
“Don’t be such a softie.”

Such comments can make you feel as though you shouldn’t feel or express your emotions ‘because you’re a man’.

Perhaps, you’ve heard other types of comments that deny, minimise and dismiss the importance of your feelings.

“It’s not that bad – cheer up!”
“Why are you still worried about that – it’ll pass.”
“Forget about it, just move on.”

Such comments suggest that it’s better to downplay how you feel, turn away from your emotions, and avoid showing it altogether. It’s tempting to think that feeling emotions might suddenly make you crumble –  or even become less of a man.

Men and Emotions

When you become too afraid to feel, admit or express your feelings – your stress rises, your worries fester, and the shame you might harbour about your flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities can chip away at your mental health.

The problem escalates when life throws you a curve ball. When something happens to you, like a break-up for example, your emotions take over. You may explode or implode. You may take it out on someone and find yourself angry, upset, resentful and full of blame. Even the smallest reminder of your problem can send you into an outburst. Or perhaps you hold it all in and you don’t tell anyone about what’s going on when you’re feeling deeply hurt and rejected. You become a pro at burying your feelings, isolating yourself from friends, sleeping too much or too little, and drinking yourself into oblivion.

The brave and caring person in your life approaches you and suggests counselling. Immediately, a few different thoughts race through your mind:

“I don’t have a problem. I don’t need a counsellor.”
“No way am I going to share my personal life with a stranger.”
“Counselling’s not for me. I’ll get over it on my own.”

Men’s Deepest Fears

Deep down, the thought of talking and sharing your emotions may terrify you. However curious, you can’t seem to bring yourself to ask the questions you want answers to. Nonetheless, you think of the following:

“What if I’m judged on what I really think, how I really feel?”
“What if I’m made to talk and share things I’m not ready to?”
“I may be seen as weak, or I may find out I have a mental health problem.”
“I may not be taken seriously or believed.”

Holding on to all these thoughts and feelings can tear you up inside and make you want to say “no” to help, even when your mental health matters the most.

That’s why in any type of therapy, it’s important to choose a therapist:

a) You feel comfortable with.
b) Who is able to work at the pace and depth you’re ready for.

For men who aren’t ready to tell their story in full, who need a bit of time to build trust with a therapist, who need help with expressing their emotions – Dramatherapy can help.

Profile of a man with his hand on his face looking into the screen of his laptop.

Why Does Dramatherapy Work Well with Men?

Dramatherapy may be just the outlet you are looking for.

Like counselling, you get to work 1-to-1 with a professional therapist to help you better understand your situation and feelings so you can feel stronger in yourself. However, the way you get to the same outcome may be different and more suitable to who you are and how you communicate. Dramatherapy works well with men because this type of creative therapy for adults is incredibly accessible. You can talk when you feel comfortable AND you can express yourself in more ways than one when words don’t come as easily.

How Dramatherapy Works

Dramatherapy is Action-Based

Some men do not want or cannot yet express the words they wish to use. Perhaps you also show your care through your actions and want to make your yourself more heard and understood. In Dramatherapy, you get to express yourself through actions and understand your emotions on a deeper level.

Dramatherapy Builds Communication Skills

Physical activities that involve drama, movement and role play can help you express yourself non-verbally. Therapy can also consist of working with art, objects and writing. Being active and working with your hands to build and create is part of the therapy. By working actively, you get to engage with different parts of your brain including the parts that hold your emotions. In time, you learn to find the words that best describe how you truly feel.

Dramatherapy is Non-Confrontational

For some people, traditional counselling may feel like being in a hot-seat. Also, it may feel uncomfortable knowing you need to sit face-to-face with another person where there’s an expectation for you to talk throughout the session. In Dramatherapy, we may sit, stand, and move around in the space. You can address your issues head-on when you’re ready or work more indirectly using story or role play.

Dramatherapy Can Help You Feel More at Ease

Having different exercises, activities and materials can make therapy more informal and relaxed. You’ve got something to look at and something to do, something to help you through the silences, and something to help make you feel more at ease with someone else in the room.

Dramatherapy is Non-Judgmental

If this is your first time going to therapy, you may feel nervous about exposing parts of yourself. Or perhaps you’ve already had some experience of counselling in the past and you recall feeling reluctant to share or only reaching a certain point before pulling back. In Dramatherapy, we can look at what makes you afraid of being judged. We do this by using creative materials and techniques which help take away the unnecessary pressure and tension so you can better understand what holds you back.

 

Dramatherapy Help for Men in Central London

Dramatherapy can help you cope with anxiety, stress and burnout, support you with trauma and PTSD symptoms, and give you the help you need with relationships. There’s no need to feel trapped in your emotions. You have a physical, psychological and emotional outlet to express all parts of yourself.

If you are ready to open up and express yourself, and are looking for mental health support, I can help.

Get started with a free 30 minute phone consultation. Let’s chat.

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If you have any requests for a blog post, please feel free to send your questions, comments or ideas to: jamie@ytherapy.com

Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.

If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/

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A set of clay-sculpted chess-like figure heads with different expressions seen in theatre masks.

5 Reasons I Use Dramatherapy to Help You Find Healing

Healing old wounds takes time. There is no such thing as a magic pill or quick-fix solution. You know that. But it’s something you long for. Maybe that’s why you’re drawn to the idea of finding the one thing that will finally help you think your way out of pain. That will snap you into new ways of behaving and being. For the busy and easily frustrated, you may even think to yourself, “If only I could melt away my problems by following 5 easy steps, then I’d be sorted.”

Therapy for Busy Londoners

You’ve probably done some research in your own time. Therapy crosses your mind. You feel yourself gravitate towards the therapy that promises you results with the least amount of pain and in the shortest amount of time. Ideally in 6 sessions or less. Perhaps that’s why practical and solution-focused therapies are so popular. But can they reach the deep wounds that you truly want to heal?

Many types of therapies focus on the cognitive and the behavioural. The rational, left side of the brain and the way you behave. You can learn or unlearn any unhelpful way of thinking or behaving. Once you understand the way you think and the way you act, you can change it by applying your newfound learning. What’s so difficult about that?

Getting to the Heart of Emotions

Remember, you’re human. You have feelings. Your emotions can take over at any time. Especially when something unexpected happens. Perhaps a trauma of some sort. And then everything stored in your knowledge bank gets thrown out the window. When this happens, you somehow forget everything you’ve learned. What you know to be the ‘right way’ to act and behave does not apply anymore. In fact, it’s completely inaccessible. All that matters is how you feel.

Your emotions are complex and can drive you to think and act in ways that feel out of your control. How you feel accounts for how you think and behave. Your emotions can no longer be ignored. If you’re wanting deeper healing, start with getting to know your emotions.

How Dramatherapy Works

Dramatherapy is a one-of-a-kind therapy that helps you listen deeply to your emotions. It fuses drama and theatre with therapy. It’s creative and expressive. You get to know yourself. So that you’re less likely to be caught off guard by your sadness, anger or fear.

Dramatherapy goes beyond role playing. What you create and who you become in a Dramatherapy session is not about escapism or moving further away from your problems. It’s about bringing you closer to who you are, the people who you want to feel connected with, and the solutions you’ve been searching for in life.

For example, objects and images are frequently used in Dramatherapy. You can explore your emotions using a set of therapy cards. You can learn better ways of coping and find greater meaning in your healing journey.

A deck of therapy cards called Cope made by Oh Cards

A set of paintbrushes dipped in multi-coloured paints on canvas

As a Dramatherapist working with adults, I use Dramatherapy to help individuals who carry a lot of stress, anxiety and worry in Central London. Those who run around a lot and take on too many responsibilities. Those who forget to take care of themselves and forget to have fun. Those who have a few skeletons in their closet and may even be at risk of developing PTSD.

In Dramatherapy, I often use creative art materials in the sessions. The process of making and creating is therapeutic and healing.

 

Dramatherapy for Deeper Healing and Change

  1. Have Fun and Let Go of Stress

As an adult, you have countless responsibilities. When your responsibilities grow, so does the pressure cooker inside you. You’re somewhat of a ticking timebomb about to explode.

When you make space for something fun, something creative – the very act of ‘doing’ and ‘creating’ can be stress-relieving itself. There’s an immediate outlet for you to let go. You get to work stuff out, right then and there.

When you have fun, you smile, laugh and feel positive. That’s because all the feel-good chemicals get released in your brain and body. In Dramatherapy – fun is allowed and encouraged. You get to work with your hands and your body. You bring your whole self into action.

 

  1. Get to Know Yourself

“Who am I?” It sounds like a question you hear from adolescents. However, the same question gets asked no matter how old we get. In times of stress, uncertainty or trauma, we can lose ourselves and find ourselves again and again at many points in life.

When you truly get to know yourself beyond your role within the family, the job you hold, or the presence you have on social media, you become more confident, sure and secure in yourself. Things become clear when you align who you portray yourself to be on the outside with how you feel yourself to be on the inside.

In Dramatherapy, we look at your words, your body language, your expressions. We explore the roles you play and look at new ways of being and becoming. When you see and experience yourself in a different way, your anxiety drops and your confidence soars. It’s easier to find new acceptance in yourself and bring out your best qualities when you’ve had a little taster of what it’s like.

 

  1. Slow Down

Our fast-paced society can sometimes send us flying to a screeching halt. You’re probably familiar with this: At first you’re busy and feeling a little overwhelmed. Then you find yourself in some kind of turmoil and it all feels too much. To cope, you shut down and shut out everything and everyone around you. When you come to needing help, you feel desperate and demand solutions that can snap you back into gear.

Like a pot about to boil over, you need to turn down the heat or find a way to let out the steam. To some, therapy may be seen as a last resort, something you only use to put out fires. However, in reality, most people don’t want to reach a point of burnout. When you give yourself the space and time to check in with how you feel, to take a closer look at what’s adding fuel to your fire, you’re in greater control.

Running on overdrive is linked to so many physical and mental health problems. The stress and panic gets trapped in the mind and body. When I use Dramatherapy to help my clients, I notice that when clients participate verbally and non-verbally by talking and engaging in something creative – they seem to release a greater amount of tension held in both the mind and body.

 

  1. Connect and Belong

Oftentimes, people reach out and consider therapy when they feel most alone. Even when you have loved ones physically present in your life, something stops you from sharing and connecting with others.

If you find yourself thinking “Nobody can see me, nobody can hear me, nobody cares” – this can feel isolating and may even be an alarm bell for your mental health. When you cut your communication with others because you’re feeling overwhelmed, not wanting to bother or be seen, or you’ve reached a point where you’re physically unable to reach out – that’s risky business if you’re not able to seek support.

Regardless of the issues you bring to therapy, Dramatherapy helps you to actively and consistently work on your communication skills. When you go beyond just talking, you:

  • learn new ways to break the ice when approaching difficult topics
  • move through communication barriers so you become more comfortable and confident with your feelings, and with sharing these feelings
  • feel less alone and be more connected to those you care most about

 

  1. Feel Safe, Secure and Strong

We all want to be in a place where we feel safe, secure and strong. When something on the outside shakes the very depths of who we are, how we feel, how we think and how we act – it can leave us feeling broken.

People who feel exposed and vulnerable at this stage cope in different ways. Oftentimes, I see people avoiding the very pain that’s brought them to therapy. For example, they discover something they don’t like about themselves or uncover deeper pain buried in childhood trauma.

Even though you want to reach that profound moment of realisation so you can move past the pain or grief, the human part of you that comes face-to-face with this wants to run away and hide. The magic about Dramatherapy is that it can work with deep-rooted trauma in a safe way that keeps you intact and strong.

Have you ever heard of the Greek mythology “Medusa”, a snake-haired monster who had the power to turn anyone who looked at her into stone? Perhaps that’s how you feel if you were to face your demons head-on. Only Perseus, the son of the Greek God Zeus, cleverly defeated her by using his sword and shield’s reflection to guide him safely into victory. Dramatherapy does the same: if you’re not ready or able to face your inner-demons directly, you have the safety of using different tools and materials. Dramatherapy works well with trauma and PTSD, and helps prevent re-traumatisation.

 

International Dramatherapy Week

It’s the first International Dramatherapy Week (21st-27th October 2019). Around the world this week, The World Alliance of Dramatherapy, showcases various Dramatherapy events and workshops. To learn more about how Dramatherapy promotes change and healing in other countries, follow #dtweek2019.

 


If you are ready to embrace deeper healing and are looking for mental health support, I can help.

Get started with a 30 minute phone consultation. Let’s chat.


If you have any requests for a blog post, please feel free to send your questions, comments or ideas to: jamie@ytherapy.com

Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.

If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/

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City Road Therapy, The Angel, 335 City Road, London

10 Things I’ve Learned from My Clients

For many years I have worked in different organisations and institutions as a Dramatherapist.

In my experience, the length and accessibility of treatment is often limited. For example, insufficient funding or perhaps individuals are considered not ill enough to warrant treatment. These expectations and restrictions always challenged and impacted the therapeutic relationship. How can I work with someone successfully with so few resources and so little time?

Seeing people with multiple, complex needs that could only be met in more secure environments made me wonder about the majority of the population who may be suffering in silence and needing mental health support.

This is what led me to set up a private Dramatherapy service in the community.

I believe in making mental health services more accessible for individuals who are less visible with their mental health issues and trauma experiences. I feel it is important for people to take charge of their mental health before reaching a point of crisis, and I believe in empowering people to ask for help.

Since the birth of YTherapy in 2017, I have taken my knowledge, skills and experience into a private community setting so that I can focus on fostering the therapeutic relationship between myself and my clients. It’s been over a year now and I have learned a great deal from my clients in private practice. Here is what I will continue to take with me into the New Year and beyond.

 

  1. Trust takes time.

Trust is paramount to the work between a therapist and a client. Trust has to be earned. A client needs to establish trust with their therapist to know this person is safe.

In institutional settings (such as hospitals or prisons), clients referred to therapy often have difficulties forming relationships, and much of their sessions (especially in the beginning) are focused on developing a positive rapport and healthy therapeutic relationship. This also needs to happen in private practice. To expect a private client to freely hand over their entire personal history and experiences in the first few sessions without any psychological consequence is a mistake. In any type of therapeutic relationship, trust takes time for deep work to take place which may include telling the very story of why they are here or expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings.

I’ve learned to always take time to establish a firm bond of trust with my clients.

 

  1. There is no rush.

It is so important for clients to go at their own pace. Everybody’s different – some feel ready to talk immediately whereas others need time to warm up. An essential part of the process is being able to communicate how fast, how much and how deep a client wants to go.

Therapy is a process. To expect great change, an epiphany, an ultimate resolution within the space of ‘x’ amount of weeks is not realistic. It is healthy and safe when clients do not feel pressured or rushed (even when challenged to address something that may eventually need looking at).

I’ve learned that it’s important to let the therapeutic process happen naturally and organically.

 

  1. A story can be told in many ways.

In popular media, a therapy session is usually seen as the client and therapist conversing, revealing details over time – maybe lying on a couch. However, there are many ways for clients to tell their stories.

Sometimes it can feel safer for clients to project unprocessed or unbearable thoughts and feelings into objects, by drawing or painting images that become symbolic and meaningful over time, or by creating different narratives through other characters.

This is all part of the work – there is no linear way to do therapy, nor is there a linear way to tell a story.

I’ve learned how to help my clients tell their stories in whichever way they feel comfortable.

 

  1. Fears are real. Fears are powerful.

Fears of being seen and fears of being judged are very much linked to shame which can sometimes feel overpowering and all-consuming.

I have experienced clients coming to their session with a “brave face” and I know it may take time for them to share about themselves. I have heard similar expressions such as “I’m scared you won’t believe me”, “I don’t want you to see me this way” and “You’ve seen too much”.

This fear that someone (even a therapist) will see their vulnerable side may feel too uncomfortable. In an institutional setting, clients often have a well-planned timetable with other treatments and support in place alongside their therapy; but things may be different for those accessing therapy privately in the community. Not everyone will have the same kind of support systems in place, and it can feel destabilising to go to therapy and then go straight to work or back home (especially if clients are talking about issues to do with their job and family).

I am always reminded by my clients about how much of a big, courageous step it is for them to come forward to ask for help.

I’ve learned to help my clients address their fears of therapy and fears of sharing.

 

  1. There needs to be space for the “good” and the “bad”.

If in the session a client wants to talk about what’s happening in their external environment, perhaps by using humour to deflect from what makes them feel pain, or by bringing the conversation to focus on their hobbies and what makes them happy, then we should make space for this.

For some, trying to fill the space by only talking about what makes them feel anxious, depressed or low in self-esteem will not be helpful. It’s important to build on a person’s strengths and this means giving clients a platform to show their therapist what makes them feel happy, attractive, smart, funny and strong.

Equally, it’s important that clients can address their darker thoughts and feelings. Therapy needs to be a space to help clients embrace and better understand the ‘shadow’ parts of themselves.

I’ve learned that bringing balance to a session with a client is healthy and essential.

 

  1. It’s okay to just be with the unknown without trying to solve it.

People come into therapy with bigger questions that don’t feel appropriate to impose or expect a clear answer or solution. Trying to push or move this mysterious something forward may not be helpful when it just needs to sit still in a space. Sometimes there are things that just don’t have an answer and can’t be forced.

I’ve learned that not everything needs an answer or solution. Sometimes, it’s okay to let things just be.

 

  1. Play is a necessity.

It is important to realise that ‘play’ is not just for children, and adults should have the opportunity to play or be playful in therapy. For many of my clients, therapy can really be a space for them to let go of their current role and everyday regime, a space to relax and try out something new. Playing can bring a new dimension to the therapeutic relationship and help foster a positive rapport and greater feelings of trust.

Play helps tap into other areas of the mind and the very act of playing (whilst having fun too) can bring on a new level of confidence and self-esteem. To be able to experience creativity, freedom, adventure, innovation and spontaneity is so necessary to build on one’s strength.

I’ve learned to help my clients enjoy play as an important part of their therapy.

 

  1. The therapist can “join in” and break the fourth wall in therapy.

The “fourth wall” is a concept in theatre which divides the actors from the audience. If you’ve watched a TV sitcom or a film – you’ll have experienced this. The actors do not normally interact with the audience.

Some people may feel similarly about therapy and believe that the therapist and client are separated by these very roles. As a Dramatherapist, I know that it’s important to join in from time to time and that it’s okay to participate and experience different ways of relating – particularly for those who find it difficult to express themselves.

I’ve learned that joining in and taking on different roles can help clients better understand relationships and become more empathetic.

 

  1. There needs to be a way of letting go and a safe route back into the outside world.

Most clients who seek therapy may come with an open mind and are very willing to share. For those who are able or feel very comfortable with talking, it may feel therapeutic in the moment to disclose sensitive information or a personal traumatic event. They may not realise until afterwards that they need time to carefully “close up their box”, find some distance from what they have shared, and then prepare themselves before they commute back to work or home.

I’ve learned that what is opened and processed in the session is a big deal and it’s very important to ensure clients have time to wind down. I often help my clients by guiding them through an end of session ritual so that they can feel grounded before they leave the room.

 

  1. Don’t go by the labels, listen to the story.

In the world of therapy, it’s important not to categorise a client or reduce their issue to a common pre-configured label. In my experience, clients seek out my help on their own, rather than being referred by other health professionals, or as a result of coming through a calculated medical system. Because of this, their issues don’t often come with a well-defined mental health diagnosis. Their narratives are more unique and therefore the approach becomes tailored to the individual.

There is no expectation in the diagnosis or treatment so the approach to treatment and the therapeutic journey itself can be more flexible and collaborative. Clients feel most empowered when they have the choice, feel heard, and become an active agent in the healing process itself.

We are in the journey together; to explore and examine the unknown, and to strive to achieve an attainable road to recovery.

 

If you have any requests for a blog post, please feel free to send your questions, comments or ideas to: jamie@ytherapy.com

Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.

If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/

 

Image courtesy of City Road Therapy.

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