This ain't a circle : the use of drama and movement therapy in providing containment to adolescents with learning difficulties within a group therapeutic intervention : a case study exploration

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation attempts to illustrate by way of clinical material a method of working therapeutically using drama and movement therapy with a group of adolescents with learning difficulties. The study is located within a theoretical context of an understanding of the emotional aspects of learning While many interventions with learning difficulties stress the cognitive dimension of these problems, this study explores their emotional basis and consequences. Bion's theory of thinking and the Container-Contained model of early object relations is used to formulate the idea that the adolescents participating in the study had not yet internalised an object capable of knowing, making it difficult for them to think about themselves and to express verbally their needs and feelings. An important aspect of the therapeutic function, that of providing a container within which to hold feelings and make thoughts thinkable, is thus explicated. It is further noted that the Way in which adolescents communicate their feelings in therapy is frequently beyond words, and ascertained by way of symbolic expression, non-verbal responses and projective-identification processes. This assumption is actively engaged by establishing drama and movement therapy as the primary therapeutic mode in the work. The potential of the creative arts therapies in assisting these young people in negotiating their difficulties is explored. Through an analysis of case material, the dissertation explores how difficult feelings associated with learning problems can be enacted, named and recovered for reflection and expression Both the notion of the therapist as a container for the adolescents' feelings, as well as the potential usefulness of drama and movement as 'concrete' containers for the exploration of internal and external experience, are examined.

Bibliography: leaves 76-92.