Theater or drama therapy is used to treat aphasia. In one case, treating aphasia was not only the goal but aphasia was also the subject of the play.

Using Theater to Express Your Feelings

Researchers found that participating in the creation and performance of a play improved the mood and the communication skills of the participants. A group of people with aphasia gathered to work together to write, rehearse, and perform a play about aphasia:

Drama therapy offers an authentic medium through which people with aphasia can interact and share their experiences. We describe the rationale and procedures of a drama class, informed by the principles and practices of drama therapy, in which individuals with chronic aphasia conceptualized, wrote, and produced a play addressing their experiences of having, living with, and coping with the effects of aphasia.

The participants used theater to explain to their caregivers and the greater world what it’s like to have aphasia. Theater becomes therapeutic in two ways: as a means for using words and practicing speech therapy as well as expressing feelings the person has about aphasia.

Rediscovering Familiar Plays

Musical theater is especially suited to help people with aphasia express themselves through a performance. While it may be difficult to remember and deliver large blocks of text, songs naturally stick in our memory and many people with aphasia report being able to sing even though they’re not able to speak.

Aphasia Communication Theater found their performance had a multitude of benefits. Theater is a communal process, so it brought people together. It gave people a focus and a reason to keep working to improve their speech. It gave people a sense of pride in seeing their performance of the Wizard of Oz come together. And it brought enjoyment to the audience who got to witness people performing their role.

Other performances, such as Aphasia Park, explored how much theater can help emotionally while it’s also helping with speech.

Have you ever used theater to express yourself?

June is Aphasia Awareness Month. We’re taking this month to look at off-the-beaten-path ways that people are treating aphasia using the fine arts. Whether you’re on the stage, behind the easel, or viewing a sculpture or performance, there are plenty of ways that people are leaning on creativity to help restore speech. This is the last of four posts in this series. You can read about visual art, creative writing, and dance.