By Sarah Bilodeau, Dramatherapist
and Miriam McBreen, Reading Specialist
This article is a snapshot of Karuna’s* experience in individual Dramatherapy, a psychotherapy that uses art and drama methods for healing. Karuna is Chinese-born; she spent many years living abroad, and currently lives and works in Shanghai. During the last few years, Karuna encountered much hardship. Through this short interview, we wanted to share her story, as it reminds us of humans’ capacity for resilience, and of how asking for support can go a long way.
1. What led you to seek therapy?
“Last year, in January, I was so depressed. My life was not very successful, in a lot of ways, and my parents had expectations of me that I did not really achieve. I had a lot of judgments towards myself and very high expectations, and work was not going well; nothing worked. I didn’t see the meaning of life and would think “I’m not going to live tomorrow, or the day after”. I had thought of harming myself, until I asked myself “Do I really want to do this?”. I told a colleague about my situation, and she encouraged me to seek help.”
2. Can you share a moment from dramatherapy that stood out for you?
To introduce Karuna’s experience, I’d like to contextualize that she was invited to remember, imagine, and then draw a version of her younger self; one that was present before the challenges she’d recently been grappling with. This was to help her re-connect with the robust and peaceful parts of her inner-self. Karuna recalled a time where she was happy and free of worries. Then, she was invited to imagine what this younger version of herself would say to the person she was now, to enable her to gain strength and perspective, while allowing different parts of her to work together. She shares:
“I cried and cried, because I knew that I could be happy. Once [dramatherapist Sarah Bilodeau] told me to connect back to these other parts of me, I felt powerful, like my dim inner light lit up. The younger version of me wanted say that you have the power to be happy. After that session, I felt much happier, because I reconnected to myself, which I hadn’t done for so long, because I didn’t even know I had that power.”
Another moment that stood out for Karuna was creating this artwork. Starting from image and word cards, it explores identity, compassion, self-acceptance, self-worth, and forgiveness. Karuna explains;
“The meaning of the picture was that the ground is the mind, which is the soil that fertilizes the plant. The mind/ground leads to the inner self, which affects the outer environment. Changing the mind changes life.”
3. What have you gained from dramatherapy?
“The experience helped me to reconnect to myself, love myself unconditionally, love nature, find meaning in life, and understand that it’s a step by step process. Now I judge myself less, and it’s inspired me to help others and to become more involved in this community.
Sarah helped me heal my heart and my mind, to become more positive and, most importantly, connected me with my healing heart. It was life-changing; she brought me back to feeling like myself.”
4. What do you think may be unique about Dramatherapy?
“I think Dramatherapy gives you a lot of different methods and ideas, and allows you to use things that have never been created. You can express yourself even without language, and I think it opens a door. Life is like a drama; you can do anything you like, it’s endless. Dramatherapy is like life.”
5. Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
“From the point in my life where I was searching for the meaning of life, to now, where I want to help people; it’s a transformation. I feel like I went from darkness to brightness. I think the therapy itself was my guru, it walked me out of darkness.”
*Please note that to respect Karuna’s privacy, the name used here is a pseudonym.
Creative, arts-based therapies can be transformative. For more information about how ELG’s therapy team can help you or your child, please contact us at 4006 129 423, +86 21 5206 6273, or [email protected].