For Those Who Care: The Lived Experience of Family Caregivers
by Stephen Snow
Historically, mental illness and those who suffer in its shadow have challenged mental healthcare professionals and family caregivers alike. This video is an essential training tool for clinical practice or classroom teaching and discussion, spotlighting a Drama Therapy-based program of community support for those who care for the severely mentally ill.  
While treatment of the severely mentally ill has become increasingly humanized over the years, the caregivers — families, friends, and even mental healthcare professionals — have long struggled alone. Caring for and supporting those with severe mental illness typically engenders fear, isolation, and hopelessness in family members, who are very often their sole caregivers. Whether their loved ones are living in an inpatient institution, the home, or in a residential facility, clinicians working with caregivers must move beyond the traditional model of talk therapy. Instead, they need useful, actionable interventions to provide caregivers with ongoing emotional support. Similarly, classroom instructors preparing cross-discipline mental healthcare workers need real-life examples to motivate and inspire students and trainees.

In this documentary, you will see how Dr. Stephen Snow’s Drama Therapy-based technique of Playback Theater provides caregivers with a literal stage for expression, support and connection. Poignant images, voiceovers, and live demonstrations of this powerful technique will add depth to your understanding of caregivers’ needs. This video is an essential tool for teaching or training in the fields of social work, community mental health, counseling, and other mental healthcare professions.   

What therapists are saying…

For Those Who Care demonstrates the therapeutic-theatrical power of "ethnodrama", a way to remove stigma, engage empathy, and build community in response to mental illness. This short film will be of great use to health and education professionals. Ethnodrama is both ancient and contemporary. As producer-ethnodrama pioneer Stephen Snow points out, since the ancient Greek tragedies 2500 years ago, theatre has offered a way to confront, experience, overcome, or accommodate life's disturbances.”

—Richard Schechner, PhD, University Professor Emeritus, NYU, Founder, Field of Performance Studies, Editor, TDR 
 
 “The documentary film, For Those Who Care, is a gem, a clear and poignant view of how and why drama therapy can aid in alleviating the pain of living with and caring for those who suffer from mental Illness. This is a must-see for families and mental health professionals seeking effective, creative ways to treat mental illness.”

—Robert Landy, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Founder of Graduate Drama Therapy, New York University
“This moving documentary gives acknowledgement and insight into the often hidden lives and challenges faced by those who are providing care for loved ones with mental illnesses. Focussed through the lens of Dr Stephen Snow and his team's groundbreaking work in voicing and explaining the lives of caregivers it will be of value and interest to health professionals, universities, schools, hospitals and any workplace or organization which believes that mental health matters.”

—Jim Mienczakowski, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Curtin University, Creator, Critical Ethnodrama Method 
“Only through love can mental illness be fully understood. The film, For Those Who Care, shows in a powerful and lucid way, the love of people caring for those with mental illness. Through demonstrations of drama therapy and interviews with caregivers and mental health professionals, this work, produced by Dr. Stephen Snow, conveys the complicated emotions and situations that families of people with mental illness endure. The film increases our understanding of stigma, and highlights the concept of recovery, rather than cure, where a person can achieve their potential, with mental illness being only one aspect of a full, multidimensional self.”

—Gail Myhr, MD CM, Psychiatrist, McGill University Health Centre, Associate professor of psychiatry, McGill University 
“Powerful film! Using drama therapy techniques, such as ethnodrama, and interviews with family members of patients with severe mental health issues, this film demonstrates the fear, isolation and helplessness of caregivers. It is an important educational tool to increase the understanding of and compassion for people who are dealing with this very difficult issue. Highly recommended!”

—Mary Harsany, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, President, C.G. Jung Society of Montreal 
In Depth
Specs
Bios
Historically, severe mental illness and those who suffer with it has challenged professionals, resulting in treatment efforts ranging from inadequate to inhumane. It has often been the caregivers — typically family members — who have stepped in to meet the daily needs of these vulnerable and marginalized citizens. And while treatments have evolved to meet the needs of the severely mentally ill, their caretakers have often remained in the shadows; diminished, neglected, and in pain.

This video provides a front row seat to a workshop led by Dr. Stephen Snow, who co-founded the Center for the Arts and Human Development at Concordia University. Using Drama Therapy’s technique of the Playback Theater and Ethnodrama developed by Dr. Jim Mienczakowsky, the program was initially designed as a self-help support group at AmiQuebec (Friends of Mental Illness) to give voice to the realities faced by those who care for the mentally ill.

With guidance, the caregivers create and act out “scripts” performed before live audiences that dramatically portray their lived experiences. Through these dramatizations, the caregivers share the pain, fear, isolation, frustration and hopelessness that often accompanies caring for the chronically mentally ill. These poignant enactments detail the very real crises that envelope these families, and the tools and resources they have developed to help their loved ones — and themselves — to cope with their shared crises.

Whether you’re working directly with caregivers of the severely mental ill or teaching about the challenges of their care, this video will provide a useful and creative tool for exploring their complex experiences and empowering them with a stage from which they can receive support.  

Length of video: 00:23:31

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-602-1

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-602-8

Stephen Snow, PhD., RDT- BCT, is a registered drama therapist, board certified trainer in drama therapy, and a certified practitioner of Playback Theatre. Snow came to Concordia University (Montreal) in 1992 as an associate professor in the department of theatre, with the express purpose of founding a drama therapy graduate program. In 1996, he co-founded the Centre for the Arts in Human Development, an innovative research, clinical practice and training centre at the university. In 1997, he co-founded the drama therapy masters program in the department of creative arts therapies, where he is presently chair and professor of drama therapy. He is the originator of a unique approach to therapeutic theatre and has directed over 40 such productions in this genre; documentaries on this work have appeared on both NBC and CBC television. He has received foundation funding to produce this performance-based research, as well as two Social Science and Humanities Research Council grants for assessment and performance ethnography research, respectively.

He is author of Ethnodramatherapy, Integrating Research, Therapy, Theatre and Social Activism into One Method

Snow has been the recipient of research awards from the National Association for Drama Therapy and the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In 2001, he received the Gertrud Schattner Award for Distinguished Service to Drama Therapy from NADT. He is co-editor and co-author of Assessment in the Creative Arts Therapies (2009) and Assessment in Drama Therapy (2012). His present research integrates methods of drama therapy with ethnnodrama.

For information on workshops with Dr. Snow and his colleagues from the Centre for the Arts in Human Development at Concordia University in Montreal, click here.
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