My background is in education, and for 10 years I taught in special schools. It quickly became clear that the use of drama was an effective tool with which to communicate with children and young people who had challenging and often self-destructive behaviour. Having worked therapeutically with drama as a teacher, I discovered ‘dramatherapy’. I knew that this was the path I wanted to follow, and have continued to passionately champion dramatherapy within education ever since.

After qualifying in 1989 as a Drama and Movement therapist at the Central School of Speech and Drama, I left teaching to become a full- time therapist.

My dramatherapy work started in a pupil referral unit, which offered individual and group dramatherapy. In 1994, inspired and supported by the innovative Chief Educational Psychologist, Phil Edwards, I established dramatherapy departments in both the pupil referral unit and in the local Special School. This involved working with children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties within the local borough.

In 2000 there were very few supervision training courses available, particularly those offering a creative approach to supervision. I was part of a small group of Dramatherapists who devised and established a supervision training; CAST (Creative Arts Supervision training). This ran independently until 2017, when it was given a home at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. CAST continues to be part of their short courses programme, as a diploma in Creative Arts supervision.

From 2004-2017 I co-ran a children’s bereavement service within the NHS. The service provided dramatherapy to children with life-limiting conditions, as well as their siblings. We realised how fortunate we were as therapists to receive regular individual supervision and consultation supervision for our service, which was not the case for other health care workers. For nurses, hospital and hospice staff, this was not a robust or regular part of their culture.

I live in London where I have a private supervision, consultation and dramatherapy practice, offering both individual and group work. I also teach on the supervision training course at Central. I offer supervision to a range of different professions and settings, including Headteachers, therapists, dramatherapy students and theatre companies.

Publications / Papers

Kelly A & Daniel CJ (1996) ‘Beginning to Work with the Elderly’ in ‘Discovering the Self through Drama and Movement’, Pearson. J (ed) London JKP

Kelly A (2002) ‘In the Wake of the Monster: When Trauma Strikes’ in ‘The Story so Far’, Cattanach. A (ed) London JKP

Coleman A & Kelly A (2012) ‘Beginning, Middle, End: Dramatherapy with Children who have Life Limiting Conditions and with their Siblings’ in ‘Dramatherapy with Children, Young People and Schools’ (ed) Leigh. L, Gersch. I, Dix. A, Haythorne. D, (pub) Routledge

Coleman A & Kelly A (2017) ‘Two to One’ in ‘Dramatherapy, Reflections and Praxis’ (ed) Hougham. R, Jones. B, (pub) Palgrave. London