Lisa Peacock is a PhD candidate in dramatherapy at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England.
Lisa's research explores the impact of group dramatherapy with UK and US veterans. She works as a dramatherapist with the NHS in Plymouth, England. She is an HCPC Registered Arts Therapist (UK) and a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) with the North American Dramatherapy Association (US). She has had the privilege of working with and learning from veterans for more than a decade. She has worked with US veterans recovering from homelessness, child survivors of trauma, children with gender identity challenges, and with Tibetan, Indian and Bhutan immigrants.
Indicative Thesis Title: Story Medicine: A Mixed Methods Study of Brief Group Dramatherapy with UK and US Veterans.
Background: Military veterans can face challenges dealing with reintegration into civilian society, along with specific mental health conditions such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this study brief group dramatherapy with veterans with clinical and subclinical PTSD symptom levels were brought together to operationalise the teamwork of the Forces in collective creative exercises. The goal of this intervention was to facilitate story sharing as a therapeutic practice. This brief intervention was then assessed for its impact on participant wellbeing, sense of belonging and transition for UK and US veterans.
Methods: Using a mixed methods approach, this study triangulated qualitative narrative inquiry with quantitative pre/post-outcome measures (for PTSD, Changes in Outlook, Sense of Belonging and Community Reintegration of Service Members). The qualitative findings were based on 14 months of data collection and grounded in the words of veteran participants to guard against appropriation of the embodied experience of military service that the researcher did not have.
Findings: Main themes of homecoming and sense of belonging arose in all group contexts suggesting common transition challenges across decades. Reframing veteran-life challenges occurred in group contexts to foster the creation of a narrative of capacity but also inhibited the sharing of some types of stories that were shared in post-group interviews. Story sharing over the life course revealed that early-life and veteran-life traumas impacted wellbeing. An intervention focused solely on military service would miss this breadth of stories. Participation reduced PTSD symptoms for more than half of participants, with sense of belonging enhanced for some participants during the group; but the latter was not sustained once the group concluded. Benefits were greater for veterans who lived in the civilian community context as compared to veterans in veteran-only communities.
Conclusion: Findings suggest recurring challenges for veterans across decades with some UK and US similarities and differences. PTSD and sense of belonging were characteristically different for veterans living within the civilian community when compared to veterans-only community contexts.
Peacock, L. 2020. Clinical comment: Claiming the identity of artist is a vital part of fitness to practice for dramatherapists. Dramatherapy Journal. 41(3), pp. 135-141.
Peacock, L., 2018. Almost Paradise: A creative arts collaboration helping US veterans recover from homelessness, in Bent, C. and Colbert, T. (eds.) Working Across Modalities in the Arts Therapies: Creative Collaborations (London: Routledge), pp. 165-177.