Traumatized individuals are typically out of sync with their own bodies. Theater will help them get in tune with each other, and with themselves. Furthermore, it will let them explore different ways of engaging with life and society in a safe environment.
Most importantly, however, theater enables traumatized individuals to experience and tolerate deep emotions - —which is absolutely essential for recovery from trauma.
Slowly engage the participants.
Individuals with PTSD are typically too hyperaroused to notice what is going on around them, which is why it is important to slowly engage them. First, get them to slowly walk around the room. Then, add some complexity to it: get them to walk on their toes, or on their heels, or backwards.
Slowly, keep making the walk more complex, until after about 30 prompts, when they will be out there waving their arms in the air.
Encourage them to make eye contact.
Once they’ve mastered all the walking prompts, tell them participants to look at the ground while they walk. Then, tell them to notice people as they go by, without the other person seeing them looking., but don’t let them see you looking.
Then, tell them to make eye contact for one second,. Tthen no eye contact, then make eye contact and hold it, etc.
Practice mirroring exercises.
Partner everyone up, then get them to mirror each other. If one partner raises their right arm, so should the other. If one partner smiles, so should the other.
Act out real-life decisions.
Present the group with a situation that could play out in real life. For example, a student is getting bullied in the hallway at school. Get them to begin acting it out, and once the scene approaches a choice point - —for example, the bullied student begins to respond to his/her their tormentors - —freeze the action. Ask your participants to come up with all the solutions to the problem they can, and encourage them to act these it out.