The socio-emotional world of adolescents with intellectual disability: A drama therapy-based participatory action research

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This study aims to explore accessible methods and techniques that enable adolescents with intellectual disability (ID) to voice their own opinions and wishes about socio-emotional aspects of their life. Participatory action research (PAR) calls for the inclusion of marginalized groups, such as people with ID, in research about them, allowing them to explore aspects of their lives and social environment, and to lead social change. Including adolescents with ID in research about them requires searching for alternative and diverse means of communication and expression. Dramatic expression may offer a range of means, verbal and non-verbal, and include performance, which is a powerful social action within the community. In this study we applied the ethno-drama-therapy model (Snow et al., 2017) with a group of 11 adolescents with ID participated in an 11-session drama therapy workshop in which the adolescents learned to express themselves through dramatic means, such as puppetry and roleplaying, and performed before an audience of their choice. In the course of the group sessions and the performance, the adolescents portrayed social and emotional issues that concern them, such as their relations with authority figures. The study demonstrates the power of drama in exploring, expanding, and expressing the authentic voice and free choice of this silent group, and presents initial results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101679
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by a grant from the Center for Disability Studies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem . We wish to thank AKIM Israel for their cooperation, which made the research possible, the staff of the facility, the parents, and above all, the adolescents who chose to take part in the workshop and research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adolescence
  • Drama therapy
  • Ethnodramatherapy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Participatory action research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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