Let Me Explain…
By: Ross Stone
As a drama therapist, I feel the majority of my day is spent explaining what I do; not necessarily to my clients, but to people I work with, interview with, or just happen to come in contact with on the street. In my mind, drama therapy is so innate, so primal, that it speaks for itself. It continues to blow my mind when someone does not understand the power and versatility of drama therapy. A few weeks ago, I had an interview for an education outreach position in Austin, TX. I was so excited — Austin is a great town! I had extensively researched the company, carefully selected my references and planned thoughtful yet playful questions to ask in my interview. The first interview was over the phone and lasted well over an hour. The interviewer who was the director of the department seemed genuinely interested in drama therapy and me. They asked me to come down to Austin for a second interview the following week.
Once I arrived in Austin, I was introduced to several staff members and shown the beautiful facility. Things were looking good. The director of the department, as well as her associate, conducted the second interview. They asked professional yet interesting questions, including, “how would you conduct assessment” and “what do you think of Beyonce.” When I said she was FLAWLESS (insert hand motion here), they laughed and said PERFECT! It was then that I thought, wow, could this be the job I’ve been waiting for, and the job that would make the wait for full time employment worth it? Finally, someone gets what I do! But it wasn’t, and they didn’t. As soon as I got home, I was welcomed with a beautifully crafted rejection letter, stating that they were very impressed with my passion, and they would love to work with me in the future… but something part-time maybe. It made me feel like I was in a relationship with someone who only found me attractive in a secluded restaurant, on the other side of town, with low-key lighting and no possible chance of running into someone they knew. They said they were concerned about my transition from a clinical to an educational setting, EVEN THOUGH, I told them I’ve worked far longer in education than I have in clinical. They just did not understand the diversity that drama therapy possesses.
One time when I was interviewing for a job in Chicago, the interviewer asked, “So you’re a d-r-a-m-a therapist”? I said yes and she went on to say that there was no need for theatre in her facility. I asked her if I could just have a moment to explain how her facility / clients would greatly benefit from having a creative arts therapist, but her response… NO. She thanked me for my time and quickly hung up. The amount of Chicago dogs I ate following that phone conversation was ASTRINOMICAL, with just a spoonful of sadness. Why she called me for a phone interview, I’ll never know.
When I interviewed to be accepted into the K-State drama therapy program, Sally Bailey told me that a drama therapist must be an advocate and an activist. At first, I felt empowered and ready for the challenges ahead. Now I feel like a rejected contestant on the bachelor / bachelorette… loveless, embarrassed, but still optimistic that I’ll get my own show in the end. STAY TUNED!
Currently, I am an Expressive Therapist PRN at a hospital school in Overland Park, KS. I like my job, even though it is nowhere near full time. Even though I have only been at my job for a few months, I already have a lot of support. I have been asked to facilitate an in-service about drama therapy for all staff that wants to attend. My boss is hopeful that it will educate and inspire the “big-shots,” upstairs to hire me full time! I am very excited and grateful to have this opportunity and support. Not only will this show how truly powerful and healing drama therapy can be, it will also save me from having to explain what I do when I come in on the weekends… well for the most part!
Philosopher, Swami Vivekananda once said, “Arise, awake, and stop not until the goal is reached.” I like this quote. It speaks to the “tilling the soil” metaphor, but obviously, Mr. Vivekananda was never referred to as Ms. Vivekananda in a formal rejection letter. I can’t say the same for me. With that being said, even with my growing cynicism and serious frustrations in my job search, I can honestly say, that I still have a firm belief and passion for this beautiful and electric field. Drama therapy is and will always be a journey that I am kinda, sorta… well, most of the time, happy to be on.