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My Real Family: Using Drama Therapy to Challenge Normative Notions of Family

Maitri Gopalakrishna, Srividya Govindan


This article describes a drama therapy group intervention called ‘My Real Family’ conducted with children from non-conventional family backgrounds in Bangalore, India. The drama therapy group process revealed that participants’ difficulties were largely due to being repeatedly confronted by a narrow discourse of what constituted a “normal middle-class urban Indian family”. This article articulates this normative discourse by drawing on findings of an opinion poll, in-depth interviews and research from the domains of family studies, law, education and media. It places the description and critical evaluation of the ‘My Real Family’ drama therapy group into this context. The authors make a case for the value of interventions such as this in broadening notions of family. It also asserts the need for individuals to make conscious choices within their domains of influence in order to embrace a pluralistic idea of family.

Keywords:dramatherapy,Indianfamily,challengingdiscourse,experiential methodology, children


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Published by Prof. Shalini Bharat, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.