Reflection and Refraction: The Dimpled Mirror of Process Drama: How Process Drama Assists People to Reflect on Their Attitudes and Behaviours Associated with Mental Illness
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The National Project to Counter Stigma and Discrimination was established by the New Zealand government in1997. The Project recognised that people with a diagnosis of mental illness are marginalized and excluded from full participation in society. The Mental Health Foundation was contracted to provide workshops for mental health service providers to shift workplace attitudes and behaviours that were discriminatory or stigmatising. This thesis used a case study approach to capture and evaluate the significance and nature of the transitory form of process drama in three workshops I facilitated in largely Maori communities in the far north of the North Island. The principles of reflective practitioner research informed the use of research tools, data collection and analysis. This research focused particularly on reflective strategies that occurred inside process drama work and the way in which meaning was constructed in that context. The central research question asked: 'In what ways does process drama work to assist people to reflect on their attitudes and behaviours associated with mental illness?' This raised a secondary question: 'What potential is there for a model to counter stigma and discrimination that uses process drama as a central strategy?' This thesis posits a new model for understanding the nature of reflection in process drama. The mimetic notions of the fictional and the real as discrete and defined entities should instead be seen as permeable frames of existence that on occasions collide and collapse into each other. The double paradox of process drama is that, having created an empathetic relationship with the roles taken, we purposefully structure distance so we can then deliberately collapse the distance to create deep moments of reflection. I suggest a more accurate term to describe reflection in process drama is refraction. Refraction acknowledges that, rather than clarity, process drama seeks ambiguity: instead of resolving issues it seeks to further problematise and complexify. The tension of working with a democratic and open-ended art form towards a pre-ordained end as part of the project is closely examined. The impact of performative rituals and proto drama processes as part of the context of working in Maori settings is also explored. A three step model for countering stigma and discrimination is formulated and workshopped. The content of the model is based on an analysis of research undertaken within an anti-racist context, and models that have informed similar mental health campaigns. The form of the model is process drama. An analysis of the workshops demonstrated that the first model developed was limited in its effectiveness. Instead, participants should engage in repeating cycles of generating and investigating images. This leads to the development of what I have termed the Spiral Three Step Model. Although the effectiveness of the Spiral model is not tested in this research, it became apparent that the workshops based on this structure provided opportunities for participants to consider and reflect/refract deeply on their workplace's attitudes and behaviours.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Vocational, Technology and Arts Education
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