Authors: Joanna Jaaniste, NSW
Event: 2010 TheMHS Conference
Subject: ARTS THERAPY, OLDER PEOPLE, STORYTELLING
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Dramatherapy lends itself seamlessly to a person-centred approach. Even though it is unusual to find the term ‘spirituality’ listed in the indexes of theoretical publications, this therapy aligns with a drama that arose in the West from roots of Egyptian and Greek spirituality. In Asia, drama also comes from spiritual roots. In Japan, the play does not begin until the Noh mask decides to start. This history, combined with the healing power of drama (original meaning: ‘to do life’) gives us essential tools for the mental, spiritual and functional maintenance of ageing people and inspires their involvement, affording them quality of life.
It is important for people who are nearing the end of their lives to be held in a gentle and safe group, exploring their existential issues and great life questions via creativity. Although their expression may sometimes seem chaotic (as in dementia), these elders often hold the key to end-of-life wisdom. By means of story, metaphor, play and improvisation, cultural questions and answers can assist with grieving, celebration, reminiscence and pleasure. Creativity is strong in old age, just as it is in childhood, and metaphors from stories from all the great religions can serve to connect people with their spirit rather than their religiosity.
In this paper, case studies and theoretical examples are presented to show how group work can be structured so that the issues that live in ageing individuals can be addressed in a creative way. Client names have been changed to protect their identity, and client or family consent has been given for clinical material to be used. Through storytelling, puppetry and play, as well as Sue Jennings’ Embodiment, Projection and Role (1999), people come to know each other in a very different manner, and discover a great deal about themselves. End of life issues, including grief and loss, are important factors for elderly people.