Theatre as a treatment for posttraumatic stress in military veterans: Exploring the psychotherapeutic potential of mimetic induction

Alisha Ali, Stephan Wolfert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Current mainstream treatments for traumatic stress in military veterans are largely inadequate in meeting the needs of veterans who are reluctant to conform to conventional illness-based approaches, including medication. These approaches have been criticized for using rigid techniques that emphasize strict symptom-reduction without considering social and relational factors in veterans’ lives. There is thus a need for innovative treatment models for traumatic stress that acknowledge potential sources of resilience and healing in veterans’ existing communities. In particular, there is growing evidence that the arts can play an important role in supporting veterans’ recovery from trauma. Accordingly, this paper describes a strengths-based group psychotherapy model that uses theatre and specific techniques from classical actor training in combination with empirically-established trauma treatment techniques from cognitive processing therapy and narrative therapy to address posttraumatic stress in veterans. Three case examples of veterans are presented with a focus on the veterans’ experiences of mimetic induction, a process through which the narrative representation of fictional encounters simulates real-world encounters at a safe aesthetic distance and thereby fosters self-awareness and positive psychological transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Volume50
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Keywords

  • Military veterans
  • Narrative therapy
  • Theatre
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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