Playback Theatre Ensemble

Autobiographical  Therapeutic Performance

Healing the Wounds of History

Counseling Collective


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About Drama Therapy Institute

The Living Arts Drama Therapy Institute produces workshops and training groups for personal and professional growth.

  • Trainings provide the opportunity for psychotherapists, and allied professionals, to learn how to facilitate action-oriented and creative arts therapy processes and apply artful and effective therapeutic interventions with their clients.
  • The Institute provides courses for mental health professionals who would like to become certified as Registered Drama Therapists through the North American Drama Therapy Association. (Link)
  • Continuing Education Credits are also available for licensed professionals in the State of California. (Link)
  • Our therapy and personal growth oriented offerings allow clients to experience the transformative and healing power of drama therapy and the arts in action.
Armand Volkas is a psychotherapist and Registered Drama Therapist in private practice and Clinical Director of the Living Arts Counseling Center in the San Francisco Bay Area where he directs a training program for students, interns and therapists who want to integrate drama therapy into their practice. Drama Therapy uses acting improvisation and Psychodrama as therapeutic tools. He is a Board Certified Trainer in this discipline with The North American Drama Therapy Association.

In addition, Armand is Associate Professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at California Institute of Integral Studies and has been Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University. He has developed innovative programs using drama therapy and expressive arts therapies for social change, intercultural conflict transformation and intercultural communication.

Armand directs Healing the Wounds of History, a therapeutic approach in which theatre techniques are used to work with groups of participants from two cultures with a common legacy of violent conflict and historical trauma. Healing the Wounds of History has received international recognition for its work in bringing groups in conflict together including: Germans and Jews; Palestinians and Israelis; Japanese, Chinese and Koreans; Armenians and Turks; African-Americans and European-Americans.

He is also Artistic Director of The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble. Playback Theatre transforms personal stories told by audience members into theatre pieces on the spot using movement, ritual, music and spoken improvisation. At the heart of Armand’s work is a profound respect for the power of personal story to build bridges between people and cultures.


What is Drama Therapy?

Drama therapy is the skilled and deliberate use of drama and theatre processes to achieve therapeutic goals. Drama therapy is active and experiential; it provides participants with a safe yet stimulating context in which to explore personal and family stories, set goals, uncover and express feelings, resolve problematic patterns, and, as appropriate, achieve cathartic release. Because drama therapy is both active and reflective, it helps people to integrate emotional, cognitive, and physical levels of experience. Drama therapy is adaptable, and takes many forms, depending on individual and group needs. As appropriate, it may include improvisation, theatre games, storytelling, facilitated enactments of real situations, and ritual. Drama therapy has proven effective with numerous populations in a variety of treatment settings. While playful and often fun, it sparks insight — promoting ease, growth and well-being.


Who can benefit from Drama Therapy?

Drama therapy is for everyone across the lifespan! A common misconception is that you have to be “good” at acting or the creative arts to engage in drama therapy. This simply isn’t true. Often when folks hear about drama therapy, they imagine standing on a stage and performing. While some drama therapy techniques do involve supporting clients to perform, there are so many other ways to engage in drama therapy. Because drama therapy is rooted in play and improvisation, many individuals find it to be an enjoyable way to explore heavy subjects. Drama therapy as a full-bodied approach can be used as a standalone form of therapy or blended with other forms of healing and psychotherapy.


What is Expressive Arts Therapy?

Expressive Arts Therapy is an approach to counseling and group work that utilizes visual art, movement, music, writing, drama, and other forms of creative expression as a way to deepen self-exploration and understanding. The creative process itself can be healing. Central to expressive arts therapy is the belief that the process of making art — in any media — is as important as the content it expresses. Awakening to the innate creativity within themselves, clients bring the wisdom of a deeper self into the light of day. They reignite the creative spirit, see their lives in new ways, and tap powerful new resources for confronting life’s challenges. Even when one is dealing with painful or frightening issues, the experience of expressing oneself through a creative process can provide fresh perspectives and a sense of hope and empowerment.