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Other  |   March 1996
The Use of Drama and Puppetry in Occupational Therapy During the 1920s and 1930s
Author Affiliations
  • Mary Ellen Phillips, OTR/L, is Staff Occupational Therapist, The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 345 East Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611, and part-time professional actress
Article Information
Mental Health / Departments / Looking Back
Other   |   March 1996
The Use of Drama and Puppetry in Occupational Therapy During the 1920s and 1930s
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 1996, Vol. 50, 229-233. doi:10.5014/ajot.50.3.229
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 1996, Vol. 50, 229-233. doi:10.5014/ajot.50.3.229
Abstract

The occupational therapy literature was reviewed to determine how drama was used as a clinical modality in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears that the emergence of the Little Theater Movement in the early 1900s, which enabled amateurs to perform publicly, provided the impetus for occupational therapists to use drama as purposeful activity. The theatrical modes most frequently used were pageantry, puppetry, and comedic plays. Additionally, the collective nature of drama facilitated group-centered treatment. Noble, a psychiatrist at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt in Maryland, used drama for insight-oriented therapy and recommended that occupational therapists use drama for treatment of persons with mental illness. Drama in occupational therapy still exists in some psychiatric settings, although a new discipline known as drama therapy, which is a division of the creative arts therapies, has arisen. Although drama therapy addresses psychodynamic goals, drama also can be used in occupational therapy to promote competence, enhance self-concept, and improve socialization.