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John Harley - dramatherapist based in Dorset - member of BADth and registered with HCPC
creating pathways to wellbeing
I am a qualified dramatherapist based in Bridport. I have over thirty years of working creatively with children and young people and twenty years of developing safe spaces for adults to find wholeness. I passionately believe in the power and effectiveness of dramatherapy and the potential it has to unlock our self-esteem, self-knowledge and the richness of our imagination. I have worked in a variety of settings over the years including schools, NHS mental health and community centres. I have experience of leading group and individual dramatherapy and I have had the privilege of working with children, young people and adults.
I like to draw from a range of approaches in working with children and teens such as visualisation, art-making, clay-work, stories, games, cartooning, mask-making, den-making and puppet work. When working therapeutically with adults I offer a spectrum of creative tools including mindfulness, improvisation, script-writing, art and colour work. I co-create a safe, welcoming space for the client to share and to express themselves freely while dramatic and creative techniques are always available.
Dramatherapy is effective supporting clients with many issues: children on the autism spectrum and hyperactivity, older people with dementia, mental illness and anxiety, addictions and relationship difficulties.
Setting and Location
The main venue for my dramatherapy practice is:
Chapel in the Garden
49 East Street
The therapy room is large, characterful and comfortable and there are car parks nearby.
I am also willing to travel to other venues such as schools and community centres.
Feedback from a parent - December 2020:
'I would highly recommend John to anyone who needs support. He worked with my 10 year old son and enabled him to grow in confidence and to start expressing his feelings in a safe, playful environment. Thank you John'
feedback from a recent adult client:
'I've reaped much from our meetings; elucidating my inner habits, making a focus shift, and transforming from the person I was being into who I am becoming.
Thank you for listening, your guidance, energy and contribution.'
From a mother of a young person:
'Drama therapy with John has done my daughter the world of good. This was visible in her demeanour in the therapy room and her actions outside the therapy room. She is notably more confident in herself.
During the session, my daughter opened up about her thoughts feelings and emotion in a deep and meaningful way. This level of self expression was not something I had seen happen so consistently before and I had never seen it even in previous therapy settings. There was something particular about the drama element that brought my daughter out of her non-communicative depressive state. Each new carer that joined a session was impressed by how different she was in the drama therapy room.'
Training, qualifications & experience
MA in Dramatherapy - University of Roehampton University
Foundation in Integrative Psychosynthesis Counselling - Re.Vision
PGCE in Primary Subjects - Leeds Beckett University
BA Honours in Visual Studies and History of Art - Oxford Brookes University
Membership of Professional Organisations
British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth) - membership number: 3442
registered with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) - registration number: AS14456
Background and Experience
I trained as a dramatherapist at Roehampton University from 2008-2011. During the course I gained experience alongside clients living with mental illness and worked with children in schools and the elderly in a community centre. My dissertation was on the effectiveness of mindfulness techniques in the dramatherapy space. Since then I have worked for the London based charity Carefree Kids doing one to one work with children in primary schools. I have been a teacher and youth leader for nearly thirty years and since the nineties I have organised and run creative residential and day retreats and workshops for adults.
From 2019-22 I co-lead a monthly support group called Away from Home for adults who have attended boarding school. This took place in Bridport and on zoom during the pandemic.
Being an ex boarder myself, I have a special interest in working with boarding school survivors and I am open to one to one therapy for those who wish to explore memories and issues. I have attended workshops given by Nick Duffell and Joy Schaverien.
Being registered/accredited with a professional body means an individual must have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation.
The HCPC are an independent, UK-wide health regulator. They set standards of professional training, performance and conduct for 16 professions.
They keep a register of health professionals who meet their standards, and they take action if registered health professionals fall below those standards. They were created by a piece of legislation called the Health Professions Order 2001.
Registration means that a health professional meets national standards for their professional training, performance and conduct.
Areas of counselling I deal with
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Boarding school issues. John co-leads a monthly group for people who have attended boarding school.
£60.00 per session
Concessions offered for
Appointments and Fees
I have a number of therapy slots available during the week including mornings and afternoons.
individual - one hour (50 minutes) - £60
group -one hour (50 minutes) - £180
* I am able to offer some reduced fee appointments to those financially unable to meet the full cost.
What is Dramatherapy?
Dramatherapy offers a safe space in which the client can play, improvise, create and fully explore their imaginative and real worlds. What emerges in this space can be a rich resource to bring back into everyday life and can have the potential to bring new insights and self-awareness to the individual.
‘Dramatherapy has as its main forms the intentional use of the healing aspects of drama and therapy within the therapeutic process. It is a method of working and playing which uses action methods to facilitate creativity, imagination, insight and growth.’ British Association of Dramatherapists
‘…a unique form of psychotherapy in which creativity, play, movement, voice, storytelling, dramatisation, and the performance arts have a central position within the therapeutic relationship.’ The Health & Care Professions Council
'(Dramatherapy) values the possibilities of the unadorned encounter between a therapist and a client in the play space. Here, the world of imagination with all its contradictions and mysteries can be revealed through the embodied play of two free consciousnesses.' David Read Johnson, PhD, RDT/BCT Director, The Institutes for the Arts in Psychotherapy
'Unlike talk therapy, drama therapy gets there really fast. Role-playing -acting out issues and problems - is more effective than talking.'
Robert Landy, PhD, RDT/BCT Director Drama Therapy Program, New York University
Dramatherapy can help you to:
- express yourself and help you to put difficult experiences behind you
- explore difficult or painful things that have happened to you from a safe distance by using stories, imagery or symbols, without having to repeat the details of your own story
- explore and understand your relationships with other people, and may help you address any problems. For example, if you feel you're controlled by other people, you can practise being assertive. MIND
As a practice, dramatherapy aims to do the following:
- Promote positive behavioral changes
- Improve interpersonal relationship skills
- Integrate physical and emotional well-being
- Achieve personal growth and self-awareness
- Improve overall quality of life
Dramatherapy may be used as a treatment for the following:
- Posttraumatic stress
- Interpersonal relationship issues
- Substance abuse
- Behavioural issues related to autism
- Eating disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Grief and loss