Jennifer Bailey interview (Emmett)

On September 30th 2020, I had an informal interview with Jennifer Bailey, an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) at the Little Keswick School, a small boarding school for boys with emotional issues. She and I talked about some of the activities performed in her sessions, how the pandemic has changed the way dramatherapy works, and the sensory nature of dramatherapy, which will be a key component of my thesis.

Not recording. So, yeah, this is it’s like, it’s pretty important that I have it recorded for like, documentation purposes. For sure. Yeah. So yeah, I don’t want to have to like do it again, but I’ll just, that’s okay. Yeah. Okay, so yeah. So you said with drama therapy, like, in a school setting is. So like, the differences and similarities between that like a private setting? Yeah. So the differences I would say is that with a private setting, you’re you like, it’s, it’s one specific thing that you’re working on. So it’s social skills, or it’s managing anxiety, or it’s managing grief. And with the school that I work at the little Keswick school, it’s, you know, a lot of my students have different types of diagnoses, whether it’s a mood disorder, or on the spectrum or learning disabilities, all those things that, you know, I’m holding in mind, you know, that some, some clinicians or be like, Okay, everybody in this group suffers from this one, or it struggles with this one thing. And in my group, it’s like, well, everybody has a little bit of everything. Um, and so it’s, it’s, the specific activities that you would do, or what you’re capable of doing, I think is is really up to the the group facilitator, the group leader, but it
you’re able to use it across settings. And I think that’s why it’s, it’s so productive and so wonderful. Okay. Yeah.

And then we talked about COVID-19, and how that’s changed drama therapy with, like, the expression and how we have to rely on our faces. And then of course, now with the masks, it’s like the opposite. So, yeah, yeah. And so like, what I think the, you recapped it so wonderfully, like,
in person I, we have like the whole body to work with. And with zoom, we have like, our little boxes to work with. And now that my school is back in session, and we have the mass to work with, you know, it’s it’s like a lot more hand gestures, I’ve noticed that, like, I have to, like, be very clear and enunciate what I say, because, you know, my mouth is covered a large amount of time. And so, you know, making sure that I’m speaking clearly, and I’m talking loud enough.

Yes. So there, I think it’s on the flip side of that, though, like doing zoom therapy, I feel like has allowed me to be a little bit more creative and think outside the box, and alter some of the interactions and interventions I would use in person so that I could use them through video conference.

Yeah, and then the other one was, yeah, the other question I had asked was, like, arguing about drama therapy being like, emerging form and how it’s like, it’s, it’s a lot more well known in like South America and Europe and even Africa than it is in North America. So yeah, and yeah, it is it is it, there’s a lot of, I think there’s more use and more awareness around it. I think that those who know about it, enjoy it, and engage in it and are truly like, like myself, like devoted to it. But I think that there’s still more awareness to be done around how we, you know, demonstrate not only to, you know, other other therapists or schools, but also to hospitals, and
assisted living places, and, you know, other other avenues.
The drama therapy could be useful.
Yeah. And do you think like, with methods of therapy, such as applied behavioral analysis, are there any ties between that and drama therapy? Oh, I totally think there could be, I mean, with applied behavioral analysis, like it’s about changing the behavior and doing something different, so that you get a different outcome. And I think with drama therapy, the the loveliness about it is you practice the behavior, um, so that you can get the different outcome because I think sometimes, you know, with
there’s a lot of talk involved, or there’s a lot of,
like plans and charts and, you know, tracking behaviors. And I think that can be helpful because it brings awareness, but at the same time some people’s brains learn and understand through doing and that’s exactly what drama therapy does. Like. If we need to practice reacting in a certain way. based off of a certain event, then let’s Okay, let’s act it out. Let’s create a scenario. Let’s let’s walk through what you would typically do. Let’s walk around
through what you should do, let’s talk through and walk through what things could get in your way. We’re allowed to kind of create this atmosphere, this this tiny environment within a session to practice the type of behavior that you’re wanting to be able to do consistently. And that’s why I think like those two, I think meld really well along with other different types of
theories and practices and therapy.
Yeah, so it’s a bit of a, like, more project related. Do you have any experience with surveys much or like, like, filling, like filling them out? or making them? Yeah, like filling them out making making surveys for like, psychological purposes. So, um, I’ve done sort of, like creative surveys for like, after doing for workshops, whether I do them with staff members, or parents of the students I have, um, you know, in working with clinical psychologists and needing to fill out questionnaires when a student of mine is doing psych testing, I’ve done those types of things. So I’ve have I’ve dabbled a little bit in both areas. Okay. Yeah. So would you What advice would you offer for someone who’s like still learning to, like, create a survey? Um, I would say you have to think of your end goal and work backwards. So if you’re wanting to know, you know, how do you like, like, my goal was to build awareness around drama therapy. Okay, so if that’s the goal, then what questions do you need to ask to, to kind of get your answer of are people aware of it, and not you? And that’s why they’re not using it? Or are people not doing it because they’ve had a bad experience? Or because they just never tried it, or their insurance doesn’t cover it. So I think starting at the end, and then working your way backwards, I think would be helpful, just because I think it would
help you narrow down what types of questions you’re wanting to ask. Um, there’s also the the thought of, do you want to do like a Likert, scale, like, zero to five, zero to 10? Or you wanting to do like,
more of a narrative and like, descriptive, I think both are fine options. But one for sure. takes way more work and coding and understanding. When you have the Likert scale. I think scoring it is always easier. And but you can always do a little bit of both, because I know some some like psychological scales do that, too. Yeah. I’m thinking of doing a kind of combo approach as well. For mine. I think it’s like, it’s good to have like, any explicit, like any actual stories to make it a little more intimate, but also the one to five to make a much easier to quantify. And yeah, it results. Absolutely. Yeah. Right. And, yeah, so what led you to choosing a career in drama therapy. So I’m a minor in theater, it was like, my favorite thing in the world. And I did a lot of theater all the way starting in like elementary school, high school, um, did to theater classes in college.
And then I when I got my master’s in social work,
I worked at a residential school on the south side of Chicago called the Sonia Shankman. morphogenic school. And I was able to do some movement and some theater and some writing of monologues and all of this creative stuff. And then
I kind of it fell off the radar. You know, I ended up meeting my husband and we moved to Virginia. And then I got the job at little Catholic school. And I started doing just improv and theater games in group therapy. And I realized how much I really missed that because I feel like
being able to play is one of like, the best things in the world and, you know, play for, you know, elementary, middle school, high school students is very different from playing with, like, small and tiny babies, right, like plays, like improv games and, you know, creating characters. And we did we were doing a lot of that and I thought, you know,
even though I’m a therapist, I’m doing absolutely what I love, like having that knowledge and that credential to be able to drama therapy is absolutely wonderful. And I’m currently in the process of doing that and I’m on the alternative track, which means
Instead of going through like a college, I’m just taking like online classes and from my experience and the fact that I have a license, all those pieces kind of allow me to do the alternative tracks. So my hope is, by March of 2021, I will be officially a
registered drama therapist as opposed to a student on the alternative track. But ultimately, it’s because I, you know, theater is amazing. And it allows us to be able to transform into two different things. And it’s a practice and perspective taking and being flexible and just being able to have fun. Yeah, no, what? Do you have any particular examples of games that you would have games or improv activities that you would do with, with group therapy? Yeah, so I do a whole bunch.
I like to do labuan movements, which there, it’s really heavy in the world of dance. They’re like eight efforts where it’s like, flick dab, press slash, and that’s only four of them. But they’re all different ways that your body moves. And so in group therapy, what we do is we tie those movements to emotion. So like, how do you move when you’re angry? How do you move when you’re sad? How do you move when you’re, you know, you’re feeling loose and relaxed? I really love Yes, let’s where someone says, I’m, let’s be cats. And everyone says yes, less than everybody acts like cats.
I love this game called silly walk where you go from zero to 100. And you walk silly and weird. And so you start from like, zero, and then you go to 10. And then you go to 30, and then all the way up to 100. And then you work your way back down.
There’s character walk where I say you are a robot on the moon. And then everybody acts as if they were a robot on the moon.
Any type of like, I don’t know if you’ve ever played at the party game where everybody has a specific character. And the host has to guess what all the characters are. A lot of like, see making a lot of
ability to be creative are games that I really like to do with groups.
Yeah, no, I definitely. I think a lot of those games I’ve played throughout my years in theater. Yeah. And
yeah, a couple. Yeah. A few other question. So yeah, how would you define drama therapy? drama therapy is using aspects of theatre and drama to help individuals reach their therapeutic goals. Okay.
Nice. Yeah. A couple. Yeah. So then, like, any specific benefits for those on the autism spectrum, such as, like, eye contact? And so yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of some of those like foundational pieces, eye contact, you know, turn taking, you know, showing someone that you’re listening to them, all of those pieces, but then it’s also
holding in mind,
someone else, and perspective taking and flexible thinking, because the game I mentioned earlier, yes, less, like you have to be flexible.
You know, you can’t just be like, Oh, I’m not, I’m not going to be a robot, like it takes away from the game. I’d also say that
being able to pretend and be something different, not only allows for creativity, but that’s also another form of flexibility and being silly.
And then, you know, when it’s, it’s been my experience that when you, you kind of tell people, I need you to act like this, or be like this, or make this face there. And like, it’s it’s play, and it’s games, they’re more likely to be able to do that, where if you just, you know, if you’re sitting and talking about it, it might be harder for someone on the spectrum to be able to do that. Um, and then once you’re able to do that, like in
kind of like a drama, exercise or activity. I think there’s that realization of like, Oh, well, I can’t do this. I just have to be like, aware that this is what I need to be doing in that moment. So I think there’s a lot of benefits for it. Mm hmm. Yeah.
Thank you so much for Yeah. Well, good luck. This is a great topic. Thank you. Yeah. All right. All right. Well, you have a wonderful rest of your evening. All right. Thank you. Bye bye.

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