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Drama Therapy Effective Tool in Healing Process for Behavioral Health

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Drama Therapy at Danbury Hospital

Far from a Broadway stage or even a community theater, drama has found a valuable role in healthcare. This past spring, Creative Alternatives of New York (CANY) conducted a 12-week training at Danbury Hospital to demonstrate the effectiveness of “drama therapy” as an alternative tool in the healing process for behavioral health patients. CANY’s course of intensive drama therapy training involved both the staff and patients of the hospital’s Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit.

This training program introduced participants to the basic principles and practice behind drama as a healing modality. The staff who participated in the program explored the basic tenets of the CANY model of drama therapy with a specific focus on its practical application in groups, learning concrete creative skills for therapeutic use. Drama therapists who train staff in psychiatric units or outpatient mental health settings often help patients who have a wide variety of clinical diagnoses including eating disorders, depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, addictions, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Heidi Landis, Registered Drama Therapist (RDT), Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT), Certified Psychodramatist (CP/PAT) and Certified Group Psychotherapist (CGP), Program Manager CANY, and Lucy McLellan, RDT-BCT, LCAT, Program Director CANY, led the training on the Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit. Throughout the program, Behavioral Health staff experienced the drama therapy process in action, and learned the rationale behind the therapeutic use of metaphor and its practical application in healing dramas.

Every week, back-to-back sessions were held. The first group focused on direct service and included both patients and psychiatric staff, allowing patients to experience a CANY group and the staff to see the work in action. The second training session was for staff only, and explored the choices made and interventions employed during the earlier group, as well as other ways that the CANY model might be used within the patient groups.

Halana Finnie, MS, PMHNP, CNS-BC, FNP, Clinical Director, Behavioral Health Nursing who helped bring this program to fruition, said, “The thrilling reality of drama therapy is the incorporation of biology, psychology and creative expression and how it facilitates mental health and rehabilitation. Drama therapy can benefit and assist our patients in achieving symptom relief, emotional and personal growth.”

Behavioral Health inpatients at Danbury Hospital are now participating in “drama group” interventions aimed at improving their self-esteem, emotional expression and self-regulation, spontaneity and the capacity to play a diverse range of life roles. They are also learning how to increase their sense of hope through creativity.

Peggy Tuiach, RN, MSN, Nurse Manager of Danbury Hospital’s Inpatient Psychiatry Unit said,” This experience has been exciting for the entire staff. For them to be part of a very creative, patient-centered intervention is amazing. We have fully incorporated ‘drama group’ into our inpatient schedule and the patients truly enjoy it. Drama group has also been specifically mentioned in a very positive light on our patients’ Press-Ganey survey responses.”

The Drama Therapy program training was made possible by a generous donation from Mr. Tom Pepin and family of Danbury. Looking for the right opportunity to do something for Danbury Hospital, the Pepin family felt that “Drama Therapy” was the perfect program for their philanthropic interests. The family’s grant included the 12-week patient group and staff training, three consecutive months of clinical supervision for the staff and again at the six month mark.

For more information on Danbury Hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit visit the website DanburyHospital.org.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

• an integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise

• an agency for home care and community health services

• a full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital

• emergency medical services

• an occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management. Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

For more information, visit WesternConnecticutHealthNetwork.org

About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience.

For more information, visit DanburyHospital.org and share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital.

About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital, is a Planetree organization dedicated to patient-centered care that nurtures every patient's body, mind and spirit. The Hospital has an extraordinary tradition of warm and caring personal attention backed by top-notch physicians, world-class technology and the newest, most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. Your healthcare team of highly trained physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators is determined and committed to improving the health and quality of life of those we serve. For more information, visit NewMilfordHospital.org  and share your comments with us Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital .




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