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A definition of dramatherapy by the Association National de Dramathérapie is as follows:

Dramatherapy is the intentional use and framework of dramatic processes including theatrical, physical and artistic expression which has therapeutic goals and objectives (projective play, improvisation, direction, real and imaginary scene work, mask, puppetry…) Dramatherapy permits, among other reasons, the person to become aware of ones behaviour, mental function, to find alternative solutions, to explore and reveal ones hidden self, to understand ones relationship to the world and with others. Dramatherapy is practiced individually or in a group setting, it promotes the imagination and creativity with the objective to transform, reveal and know ones-self. Dramatherapy has personal, transgenerational and social benefits.


The historical background & the professional context of arts therapies in France

​From a historical viewpoint, it can be said that the practice of art therapy was first developed within psychiatric hospitals. Since his medical thesis in 1801, Philippe Pinel the founder of psychiatry in France proposed artistic activities in the program of recovery from alienation. From the nineteenth century onwards, many different attempts were made to help mentally ill patients: theatre performances in asylums (Bicètre, Charenton and Sainte-Anne) and concerts in hospitals, bands and chorals for patients. At that time it was generally believed that patients should receive treatment that had a social purpose, which was characterized by a variety of different collective activities like music. This idea was developed after World War One, through socio-therapy. At that time some artistic activities were also included in programs of ergo therapy (crafts production) and occupational therapy (with self-expression).

Over the twentieth century an ever increasing number of experiments in arts therapies, based on a wide range of different theories, have been conducted by artists, care takers or ‘art therapists’.

The situation of dramatherapy is a work in progress. As a result of the large development given in France to psychoanalytic psychodrama, its important presence has inhibited any other form of theatre activity in therapy. Nevertheless, in the past decades the situation has been improving. Puppetry, writing - workshops, storytelling, clown, circus activities are finding their place in institutions. The emergence of body expression centered approaches is increasing in the modern day in France.

The Association Nationale de Dramathérapie

The main goal of this association is to create a network of exchange and contribute to the development of the scientific method that is dramatherapy, at a practical and theoretical level. We organise a yearly meeting between dramatherapists and like-minded professionals; we are building a national professional directory on our website and we create a permanent network between professionals, students and dramatherapy enthusiasts to promote information and professional links.

Gathering knowledge from other countries through the translation of articles and through the organization of a yearly event with an international expert, we try also to uncover what is the specificity of French dramatherapy, our cultural roots. We are now engaged, for example, in the process of writing a review describing different clinical practices by French dramatherapy professionals.

The organization reflects on the ways to gather with creative art therapy institutions and training centers, to be nurtured by the many different local practices while staying independent from one specific school of thought so as to represent our diversity.

Our main cores are network, dramatherapy development, professionalism and professional identity.

Associations of Dramatherapy in France

The National Association of Drama Therapy, France (AND)

Status and professional identity

The status of art therapists is France is presently improving. There are now some art therapists working in institutions (psychiatric hospitals, retirement homes, social structures...) with the recognized status of an Art Therapist. The French Federation of Art therapists (FFAT) is working with the main public and privates schools and main Art Therapy associations to create a real status for our profession to prevent untrained people from using our title. We have good hope we will manage to reach the labour minister and create a recognized professional identity in the French law.


Christine Appella -

Christine Appella is a dramaterapist and a certified coach . She worked at the theatre of the opressed in Paris and among compagnies comitted to social changes. She did her post graduate degree in dramaterapy at Roehampton university and worked for NHS therapeutic communities. She is promoting dramatherapy in the south of France in the field of psychiatry, autism and charities. She is also working along Judith Balas co animating analysis worshop on educational practices in closed educational center. She is vice president of the french dramatherapy association.



Barbara Lau -

Barbara Lau is a dramatherapist, a trainer and a family therapist. She has a Master degree in Dramatherapy from Paris V. She works in an alternative middle school as a dramatherapist, and has a private practice in Paris. Sbe worked for 10 years in the educational and social field. She co-founded the French institute of Developmental Transformation (DvT) and teaches the method. She is the vice president of the French Federation of Art Therapies (FFAT). She co-founded a theatre compagnie, Parole d'Ephèmeres, she wrote and performs in Les Hémisphères, a play about mental disorder.



Association nationale de dramathérapie


Address 40 Avenue de la méditérranée

66050 Ortaffa France


Mail address



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