Effectiveness of Drama-Based Therapies on Mental Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Studies

Hod Orkibi, Shoshi Keisari, Nisha L. Sajnani, Martina de Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psychodrama and drama therapy are organized health professions where credentialed professionals intentionally employ experiential drama processes and techniques to ameliorate health and well-being within a therapeutic relationship. These drama-based therapies are used for mental health treatment across a range of clients and in various healthcare settings. The aims of this systematic review and meta-analysis were to (a) aggregate and synthesize the evidence on drama-based therapies, (b) assess the strength of the effects of drama-based therapies on mental health outcomes, and (c) examine which outcome, study, sample, or intervention characteristics moderated the strength of the effect on the outcomes. Inclusion criteria were randomized control trials and clinical control trials, mental health outcomes, and therapy interventions. The protocol for this study was registered at PROSPERO and seven databases were searched: Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Embase, Wiley Online Library, PubMed, PsycINFO, and Scopus. Risk of bias in the included studies was assessed and a multilevel meta-analysis was performed, containing 30 controlled studies, 144 effect sizes, and 1,567 participants. The results showed an overall medium effect of drama-based therapies on both psychological and behavioral mental health outcomes (d=.501, [.36,.64]). There was no statistically significant difference between psychodrama and drama therapy, and other selected characteristics did not have a statistically significant impact on treatment effectiveness. Although this meta-analysis was not restricted to randomized controlled trails, these findings suggest that group psychodrama and drama therapy are effective in contributing to clients’ mental health, with similar overall effects as shown in other psychotherapies. Implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association


  • drama therapy
  • mental health
  • multilevel meta-analysis
  • psychodrama
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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