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'Theatre of Attachment': Using drama to facilitate attachment in adoption

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Joan Moore describes an innovative drama therapeutic approach to facilitating attachment between adoptive parents and their children who suffered abuse and neglect in their family of origin. Children of hostile parents often display fear of adults' proximity. Play is proposed as the most natural way to increase empathy between these children and adoptive parents. Their joint engagement in 'make-believe' invites discovery of new perspectives and heightened self-awareness. The child's life story is explored, initially using metaphor as fictional contexts provide the privacy of distance that allow us to confront what may otherwise be too disturbing or painful.

It is argued that working in the child's home, using sensory materials, assists transfer of learning from the therapeutic play space to daily life. Children begin to reassess their survival of adversity as 'heroes' rather than 'victims'. Released from blame for events over which they had little control, children explore continuing troublesome patterns and, through theatrical enactment, create new ways of being. Parents' direct involvement in performance of the child's story (both fictional and real) leads to improved mutuality. The shared emotional experience brings parent and child closer, and parents gain improved confidence to support their children.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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