Alternative Training

About the Alternative Training Program

The Alternative Training Program was created to provide a means for individuals outside the NADTA-approved graduate programs in drama therapy to satisfy the educational requirements for the RDT (Registered Drama Therapist) credential. Basic eligibility requirements and additional training/work experience still must be met (refer to RDT Standards, Requirements and Procedures document for complete information.) Alternative training permits individuals to creatively design an individualized learning program that credits related work experience and training opportunities.

This training is offered through accredited academic institutions, institutes, and conferences and workshops run by RDT/BCT’s. Additional hours may also be earned through clinical supervision by a licensed and knowledgeable supervisor or physician and/or registered creative arts or mental health/special education professional. Alternative training hours must be earned with more than one RDT/BCT and supervised by at least two different RDT’s (or an RDT and a licensed professional in the field.)

Alternative Training FAQs

What Are the Academic Requirements?

Who Are the Trainers?

How Do I Find a BCT To Be My Mentor?

How Does One Apply To Be an Alternative Training Student?

Where Are the Courses?

What Are the Costs Involved?

Responsibilities of the Student

Responsibilities of the Board Certified Trainer (BCT) 

What Are the Academic Requirements?

The candidate must hold an undergraduate degree plus an M.A./M.S. or M.A./M.S. in progress in order to pursue the alternative training route to registration as a drama therapist. The masters degree can be in any academic area related to drama therapy (e.g. theatre, psychology, social work, special education, recreational therapy, nursing, etc.)

Who Are the Trainers?

A trainer must have obtained a BCT (Board Certified Trainer) credential. In order to obtain and maintain the credential, she/he must be a practicing drama therapist who has at least five years in RDT rank and who is actively affiliated in some area of drama therapy (e.g. academic, clinician, group therapist) and actively involved with NADTA. He/she must have a broad base of experience and knowledge of the entire field of drama therapy and must submit current recommendations which support that. In addition, the trainer must have an acknowledged reputation as a skilled drama therapist in more than one area of expertise either through publication, presentations, workshops and/or other recognized contributions to the field of drama therapy.

As a trainer, this person may offer training to students in the Alternative Training Program through academic courses, workshops, or institutes. He/she may also advise, design, monitor and assess individual student programs and progress.

How Do I Find a BCT To Be My Mentor?

It is important to find a BCT with whom you feel comfortable. This is a very important relationship -- you need to be able to trust this person and be able to communicate honestly with her/him.
If there are BCTs in your area, contact them and ask for a meeting or phone conversation. (Click here for a list of BCTs.) Another good way to meet a BCT is by going to an NADTA regional or national conference and going to see presentations that BCTs are giving. You may want to seek out BCTs at breaks and meals to talk to them and ask questions -  or make an appointment for a short meeting.

If you are unable to connect with a BCT in your area or at a conference, you might want to arrange for a phone conversation.

Read over the Alternative Training manual, and if the BCT has a website, look over it before your conversation so you can have a list of questions to ask. Be prepared to share your dreams and to talk about who you would like to work with, what type of institutions you would like to work in, and what your experiences have been so far in theatre and in therapy. Assess your strengths and weaknesses and share them with the BCT to see if you feel she/he will be able to guide you on the road to building on your strengths and improving your weaknesses.

How Does One Apply To Be an Alternative Training Student?

Individuals interested in alternative training should review the Alternative Training Handbook posted on this website to understand the program and what is required in detail. The student needs to select a primary trainer (BCT) and contract with him/her to design an Alternative Training Contract. Click here for a list of BCTs. Then the student submits a one-time $80.00 fee along with a copy of his/her first contract and a signed Code of Ethical Principles to the NADTA office, in order to formally register as an Alternative Training Student. The fee includes one free year of student membership.

Where Are the Courses?

There are many courses, workshops, and trainings held throughout the year across the country. Alternative training students do not have to take all of their classes in the same place, and students who do not live near a drama therapy school may be able to take some of their classes locally. Psychology requirements may be able to be taken on-line, but the experiential nature of theater and drama therapy means that some requirements will need to be taken in person. Many training institutions offer drama therapy courses as intensives, creating opportunities for students who are able to travel to the school for weekend or week-long trainings. Your BCT should help you identify opportunities and an education plan (on the alternative learning contract) that meets your specific needs.

Options for courses can be found through:

  1. Talking to your BCT.
  2. Reviewing the list of training centers and universities that offer drama therapy courses. (Click Here) Students are not limited to attending the schools on the list, and may find courses that meet the requirements at other institutions.
  3. Checking the events calendar on the NADTA website. (Click here)
  4. Subscribing to the dramatherapy listserve. (Click here for information on the listserve.)

What Are the Costs Involved?

Total costs are unique to each individual situation and may be difficult to estimate for a number of reasons:

  • Each alternative training student is in a different part of the country and will travel different distances to trainings.
  • Each student has a unique background -- some having no previous training in drama therapy, theatre, and/or psychology and others having varying amounts.
  • Costs at internship and supervision sites will vary.

However, there are a few costs that will appear across the board for all at students such as:

New alternative training students must pay an initial $80 fee.(This includes the first year of membership in NADTA.)

 Students must maintain a student member in NADTA throughout the time you are an Alternative Training Student ($40 per year after the first year).

Conferences, institutes, workshops and training programs have their fee structures in place and will list them in their information.

There will be a supervision/consultation fee for your BCT and for internship supervision. This fee will be determined by the student and supervisor. The minimum fee for supervision has been set by the NADTA Board as $25 per hour, but each BCT is free to set his/her own fee. (Note that some Universities include the supervision fees as part of their course fees and do not charge an additional supervision fee.)

Responsibilities of the Student

It is the student’s responsibility to select a primary trainer (BCT) who will agree to serve as such for an agreed upon fee. A formal agreement between the student and trainer must be signed and returned to the NADTA office c/o the Chair of the Education Committee. The student will consult with the trainer to design a program of study that satisfies the core curriculum requirements. Additional course work in his/her particular area of specialization may be recommended.

It is the student’s responsibility to check the status of the drama therapists with whom he/she studies. The student must take course work with at least one additional trainer (RDT/BCT) in addition to the primary trainer. It may be possible to receive training hours for work in other Creative Arts Therapies if applied for before the fact

The student will be required to fulfill an 800-hour internship (minimum 300 hours direct client contact, minimum 30 hours supervision, maximum 470 indirect service hours) under the supervision of a trainer who is an RDT, a credentialed creative arts therapist, or a credentialed mental health professional. The procurement of the position will be the student’s responsibility on advice and approval of the primary trainer.

The student must remain a member of the NADTA for the duration of his/her alternative training. After alternative training is complete and the person is working on the 1,000 hours of professional drama therapy experience, he/she must remain a regular member of NADTA. (Requirements for registration state that the applicant must have been a member of NADTA for at least 2 years prior to application.)

Responsibilities of the Board Certified Trainer (BCT)

The primary trainer will meet with the student to plan the individualized program and set up the course work.

Once a BCT has agreed to serve as a student’s primary trainer, he/she will be responsible to the NADTA Trainer Review Committee.

The trainer may offer specialized and generalized training. He/she will recommend other trainers, master teachers, courses, workshops and institutes for the student.

The trainer is responsible for providing supervision, which may occur in the course work, research papers, field work and internship. Internship supervision may also be done by an RDT, credentialed creative arts therapist or credentialed mental health professional. Trainers who supervise Alternative Training students will be compensated by the student at a rate which is equitable and consistent with the field.

Documentation of all coursework and internship must be maintained by the BCT and may be reviewed by the Education Committee.  The BCT will access the student's work on an on-going basis to determine if the training contract should be continued when the learning contract is reviewed at the required yearly interval. Trainers, in consultation with the student, will be responsible for arranging an on-site evaluation of the student’s work.

Click here to download the alternative training manual which contains a list of required courses and additional information.