Playback theatre and recovery in mental health: Preliminary evidence

Galia S. Moran, Uri Alon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Playback theatre is a community-building improvisational theatre in which a personal story told by a group member is transformed into a theatre piece on the spot by other group members. Playback theatre combines artistic expression and social connection based on story-telling and empathic listening, thus bringing together modes thought to promote healing. Here, we explore the potential of playback theatre to promote recovery in the field of mental health. We conducted two playback courses for a total of 19 adults in a university-based program for recovery, and collected qualitative reports pre-post self-report measures for self-esteem, personal growth and recovery. We also developed a self-report measure named the playback impact scale that includes items related to creativity, confidence in performing, social connectedness and seeing one's life as full of stories. We find significant enhancement in the playback impact scale following a 10 week playback course. The qualitative reports indicate recurring themes of enhanced self-esteem, self-knowledge, as well as fun and relaxation, and enhanced sense of connection and empathy for others. These preliminary results suggest that playback theatre can serve as an effective practice for enhancing recovery processes from serious mental illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-324
Number of pages7
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Community-building
  • Improvisation
  • Mental illness
  • Playback theatre
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation
  • Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Playback theatre and recovery in mental health: Preliminary evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this