International Summer Conference 2024
Theatre & Therapy

Dancing with the wounds, playing with the Shadows

June 26 – 30, 2024

Akademie der Kulturellen Bildung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Remscheid

Every year, the German Association of Dramatherapy (DGfT – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Theatertherapie), together with the Institute for Dramatherapy (ITT – Institut für Theatertherapie), organizes an international symposium on theater and therapy.

At this year’s Summer Academy, we are focusing on the topic of ‘trauma’.

In trauma therapy work, we encounter people who have been deeply wounded by extremely threatening and frightening experiences. They carry “trauma traces in brain, mind and body” (Bessel van der Kolk) and often live with a profound shattering of their world view and trust in the world, with an experience of powerlessness, vulnerability and desolation that can hardly be shared with others. It is the survival reaction in which the fright is inscribed in the body, which is perpetuated in a constant reactualization of the threat.

When we broaden our focus, we can see the experiences that were/are so (life-)threatening, so deeply terrible and terrifying that they exceed the human ability to cope in the moment of the event – and the contexts in which they occur: wars, terror, violence, displacement and flight, natural disasters and the catastrophic effects of ongoing climate change, experiences of racism, gender-based discrimination, sexualized violence and much more.

The word ‘wound’ in the title of this year’s Summer Academy is intended to take account of these two sides of trauma: next to the attention for the wounding that people experience in trauma and the question of how life with this wound can find its way back to liveliness and connection, it is important to us to draw attention to that which wounds – hurtful, destructive, pathogenic dynamics and structures that sometimes may appear to be normality. This is linked to the question of how we are involved in this and the desire to explore the particular possibilities of dramatherapy in dealing with it.

Theater has always been a place where the abysses and extremes of human experience – destruction, violence, cruelty, shame, guilt, betrayal, love, hate – are symbolically transformed and collectively experienced and endured in aesthetic form. Theater is a communal experience. Theater always lives in the here and now. Theater is body, is action, is encounter, is movement, is play. Dramatherapy draws on this wealth of artistic possibilities and creates a space that is safe enough to dance with the wounds and play with the shadows.

During these days, we want to make a part of the dramatherapeutic landscape on the subject of trauma tangible, give the opportunity to get to know different ways of working in this field dramatherapeutically and at the same time broaden the view of the background against which this landscape unfolds.

The workshops offer experiential spaces for different aspects of trauma – such as transgenerational transmission, collective trauma, spirituality – and different dramatherapeutic working methods in this field. They provide space to deal more intensively with one aspect, to gain an insight into dramatherapy work with traumatized people and/or to gain impulses for one’s own therapeutic approach and attitude. We are grateful that we have been able to attract experts on the subject of trauma for the workshops and lectures, who will share their experience and expertise with us.

Saturday will be dedicated to encounters with the whole group of participants. Here, the different experiences from the workshops can be shared, contextualized and reflected upon.

The view of the topic will be deepened by an online seminar, a lecture, a collective intervention with the entire group and a film, as well as a wandering resonance lab accompanying the entire conference program with graphics, text and performance elements.

Further information:

Conference Address
Akademie der Kulturellen Bildung des Bundes und des Landes NRW e.V.

Küppelstein 34

42857 Remscheid

Institut für Theatertherapie (ITT)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Theatertherapie e.V. (DGfT)

Overall direction, conception, program
Daniela Debald und Ilil Land-Boss,

Registration and information
Martina Hoffmann-Seidel
Tel. +49 (0)1523 8501660

On-site management
Klaus Wührl-Struller
Tel. +49 (0)170 7580780

Informationenon the venue and how to get there

Please note: Registration for the Summer Academy is only possible via the Institute for Theater Therapy and the registration form on our website!