Classroom drama therapy program for immigrant and refugee adolescents: A pilot study

Rousseau, C., Benoit, M., Gauthier, M.-F., Lacroix, L., Alain, N., Viger Rojas, M., … Bourassa, D. (2007)

Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry

12(3) | 451-465

This evaluative study assesses the effects of a school drama therapy program for immigrant and refugee adolescents designed to prevent emotional and behavioral problems and to enhance school performance. The 9-week program involved 136 newcomers, aged 12 to 18, attending integration classes in a multiethnic school. Pretest and posttest data were collected from the students and their teachers. The self-report and teacher’s forms of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were used to assess emotional and behavioral symptoms. At the end of the program, although there were no reported improvement in self-esteem or emotional and behavioral symptoms, the adolescents in the experimental group reported lower mean levels of impairment by symptoms than those in the control group, when baseline data were controlled for. Their performance in mathematics also increased significantly compared to that of their control peers. The findings suggest that the workshops may have an impact on social adjustment of recently arrived immigrants and refugees. This drama therapy program appears to be a promising way of working preventively and in a nonstigmatizing manner with adolescents who have been exposed to diverse forms of adversity, among which are war and violence.