Drama therapy: The making of a major


If you haven’t heard of drama therapy at Trinity University, there’s good reason for that. It’s new, and it’s all the work of one student who transferred to Trinity last year. Junior Molly Rosenblatt, a communication major, has started the process of creating a second major.

Before attending Trinity, Rosenblatt was studying at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. It was the only school she applied to, but she soon found herself unhappy with the university’s administration and was facing several medical issues at the time. When her mother pushed her to transfer, Rosenblatt was drawn to Trinity and was later accepted with a scholarship. While she describes the transfer process as having been overdrawn and scary, Rosenblatt said that Trinity ended up being the right place for her.

“I just fell in love with Trinity as I’ve been here, and the people are great, and the theatre department’s awesome, and I couldn’t imagine myself being anywhere else,” Rosenblatt said. “By being at Trinity, I got more opportunities to volunteer with programs like Kinetic Kids, which got me interested in drama therapy in the first place.

But just what exactly is drama therapy? Drama therapy as a field describes the use of theatre techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health. It’s a subject Rosenblatt feels passionately about.

Rosenblatt, who has been acting since she was five years old, discovered her love for drama therapy after interning for the Magik Theatre in downtown San Antonio, where she was able to help kids find their confidence and heal. When the Magik Theatre asked her to serve as chairperson for their new Kinetic Kids program, Rosenblatt was ecstatic to jump on the opportunity to pass on her own love for theatre to kids of all ages.

“I’ve always used drama as my therapy growing up. It’s always been my escape, it’s always been my way of understanding things, understanding people. This is exactly what I want,” Rosenblatt said. “I want to take all of these negative emotions or things that are haunting your mind and put them into a healthier form. I tell a lot of kids to take their anger and focus it into an art as in playwriting or acting or something as opposed to keeping it inside.

Rosenblatt said that one of the moments that inspired her to pursue drama therapy was when an eight-year-old girl changed her life. The girl was terrified and frequently ran out of the classroom, but Rosenblatt pleaded with her boss to let her work with the girl. By the end of the week, the girl successfully performed on stage in front of an audience.

“I just remember the smile on her face and the tears running down her mom’s face, and she was like, ‘I never thought that she would ever get a chance to do something like this.’ And just thinking of that moment pushes me forward, Rosenblatt said.

Since Trinity doesn’t have a major for drama therapy, Rosenblatt has been working with Trinity faculty and staff to create this second major. One of these people is Ellen Barnett, assistant professor of education at Trinity University.

“Molly is an independent thinker who is passionate about drama therapy and its potential to impacts students’ lives in meaningful ways. It was a pleasure to support Molly as she faced various challenges, and it is an absolute delight to watch her learn and grow, Barnett said. “I’m excited for her future, and she knows I’ll be in the front row of her students’ first performance.”

Michael Soto, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, is also an important figure in coordinating secondary majors and paving the road to student success.

“The University mission — to provide a transformational liberal arts and sciences education — guides all that we do. An interdisciplinary second major often proves an excellent way for students to leverage the university’s many academic strengths by bringing them into direct conversation with their personal intellectual ambitions,” Soto said.

Rosenblatt is currently trying to have credits from Sarah Lawrence apply toward the major, as she had took relevant classes, such as Community Outreach Through Theatre and Working With Kids. She is also taking psychology, education and theatre classes which she feels would align well with her drama therapy degree. She still hopes to graduate in 2020, but she recognizes that she could be taking classes for longer than the traditional four years.

Everything is a step at a time,Rosenblatt said.

Rosenblatt has advice for anyone who might go through the same process she has of making their own major.

My biggest thing would be do not let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. I’m a huge believer in the fact that nobody else can affect your life except for you. Other people telling you that you can’t do it — they don’t know you, they can’t get into your head. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t. Always prove them wrong, Rosenblatt said.

Rosenblatt hopes to do the Master of Arts in Teaching program after finishing her undergraduate work. She wants to teach for a couple of years, do something in communications to make some money and eventually go back to get a master’s in psychology and open up her own drama therapy studio.

I want to help kids all over the world understand that there’s a healthier way to control their anger, their anxieties, to control all of that, Rosenblatt said. I think that drama therapy is a great way to teach that — there’s just so many people that have been affected by it, including myself, and I just want to share that with everybody. My long-term goal would be making it more of a known movement and spreading the knowledge.