Dramatherapy for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic integrative review

Loukia Bololia, Joanne Williams, Kenneth Macmahon, Karen Goodall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Dramatherapy is a form of psychotherapy practised by qualified and clinically trained dramatherapists and entails the intentional use of drama and theatre-arts creative processes such as storytelling, role-playing, movement, dramatisation and improvisation to promote therapeutic change, adaptation or self-development. Dramatherapists and researchers have contributed to the development and appreciation of dramatherapy for supporting children and adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, who tend to experience mild to severe challenges in interacting and communicating with others as well as processing social-emotional experiences. However, there is limited empirical research in this field. The present study adopted an integrative approach to systematically review the published research on the effects of dramatherapy sessions for children and adolescents with ASD, aged under 19 years; aiming at offering an in-depth and holistic understanding of the impact on emotional, psychological and social domains. Nine research studies utilising different research designs, namely six qualitative studies, two quantitative studies and one mixed methods were identified and integrated in this systematic review. A textual narrative approach was employed to synthesise the findings which suggested that dramatherapy can support children and adolescents with ASD by fostering behavioural, expressive and social skills and promoting emotional well-being through the use of various art forms and techniques. Methodological issues concerning the transparency of the research process were identified. In addition, the need for a formalised approach to exploring and evaluating the impact was recognised.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101918
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Early online date5 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

No funding acknowledged.


  • ASD
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Dramatherapy
  • Integrative review
  • Psychotherapy
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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