What is a dramatherapist?

Dramatherapists help people of all ages explore and manage personal, emotional and social issues using storytelling, play, movement, puppetry and improvisation.

To work in the NHS, dramatherapists must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

How you can become a dramatherapist

Choosing subjects at school

To get on a course that could lead to a career as a dramatherapist, useful subjects include:

  • Drama
  • Psychology
  • Care
  • Dance
  • Human Biology
  • Maths
  • English

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college, or a new job with NHSScotland.


Foundation Apprenticeships

You could gain new skills and valuable work experience doing a relevant Foundation Apprenticeship.

Learn more about the Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare.

College and university

To become a dramatherapist, you’ll need a postgraduate qualification in Dramatherapy.

You should take a relevant undergraduate degree course, such as:

  • Drama
  • Psychology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Social work
  • Nursing
  • Theatre Arts
  • Creative Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing

Widening access

Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you can get into higher education through the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP). Many universities also provide access programmes to help you gain the degree entry qualifications you need.

Education providers that offer pre-registration postgraduate programmes in Dramatherapy include:

  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the University of London in association with the Sesame Institute
  • University of Derby
  • University of Roehampton

Find out more about these programmes on the website for the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Dramatherapist role

As a dramatherapist, you’ll work with people individually or in groups. The people you're supporting could include those with:

  • emotional, behavioural or mental health problems
  • learning or physical disabilities
  • neurological conditions
  • physical illnesses

What you’ll do

Some of the typical tasks of a dramatherapist include:

  • encouraging people to explore personal and social issues
  • enabling people to express themselves and reflect on feelings and relationships in a safe and secure environment
  • providing opportunities for people to learn new skills or new ways of thinking and behaving
  • writing reports to record therapeutic activities and document client progress

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • caring 
  • teamwork
  • communication
  • problem-solving
  • persuading and motivating people
  • leadership

Who you’ll work with

Dramatherapists work with other healthcare, social services, and education professionals, including:

  • psychologists
  • nurses
  • healthcare support workers
  • social workers
  • teachers
  • art therapists
  • music therapists

Working environment

You could work in:

  • hospitals
  • schools
  • the community
  • health centres

Useful information

To work as dramatherapist in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Did you know?

Dramatherapy is a form of psychotherapy dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. There are more than 4,400 registered arts therapists in the UK, including art, drama, and music therapists.

Learning and development

During your career, you’d be expected to keep your skills and knowledge up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth) offers and provides information about courses, conferences and seminars where you can exchange ideas and update your skills.

Career progression

As you progress, you could choose to specialise by working with specific client groups, such as:

  • children and young people
  • older people
  • offenders

You may decide to become a specialist in a particular area, such as helping people receiving palliative care or people who have dementia or mental health problems.

As an experienced practitioner, you could become a senior or consultant dramatherapist, managing the work of a team of therapists.

You could also become the head of an arts therapy department, coordinating the work of therapists from other disciplines such as art therapy or music therapy.

In a senior role, there could also be opportunities to train other dramatherapists.

Professional bodies

Once you’ve become a qualified dramatherapist, you can join the: