Dana Suttles, MA, LGSW

I am delighted to introduce Dana Suttles as our Membership Spotlight this month! Dana has been an engaged Central Region Member over the past few years, both attending Central region events and the Polaris DvT institute. Both in her work and service, she is dedicated to the field of drama therapy. Please enjoy her inspiring work and message below!
-Laura Wood, ABD, RDT/BCT
Central Region Representative, NADTA

1. Please tell us what has been your path to drama therapy.

My path to drama therapy was fairly simple. I had been looking for a way to combine my undergraduate Psychology major and Theater minor into a graduate program that would work for me. I finally decided to do a Google search of drama + therapy, and found the program at NYU. The rest is history! However, prior to my lucky Google search, I had begun to get curious about the release I felt when I was performing, and how it might be related to other spiritual and healing activities I already associated with relieving stress and cultivating joy (like singing in church, dancing, or prayer / meditation). It was a connection I had hoped was worth looking into, and I am happy my instincts were spot-on.

Who have been your mentors both in the drama therapy community and outside of it?

My mentors in the drama therapy community have been my peers. This year marks my tenth anniversary of entering the Drama Therapy program at NYU, and since then, I have watched my own classmates, as well as those in years just before and after mine, pursue all different kinds of avenues in the work, paving new paths as they go. As someone who felt very insecure about my track following graduation, I have been repeatedly reassured by my peers that there is no perfect way to be a drama therapist. We practice, teach, write, start non-profits, combine our skills as healers with other life passions, advocate for and support each other, impact policy and law, make art, and much, much more. I am inspired every year by someone new to continue on my own unique path, knowing that I too contribute to this incredible body. Outside of the drama therapy community, my mentors are accomplished women of color, artists and administrators, who inspire me to share my gifts in the community, whenever and wherever I can.

What are your current projects and the path of your work?

I currently work with court-involved youth as a Program Counselor and Group Facilitator for the Amicus Radius Program at Volunteers of America MN-WI. I am also a Creative Community Leadership Institute (CCLI) Fellow, and a board member of Arts in Action. The path of my work is in transition--I have been working with youth for the past three years, however that is scheduled to change by the end of the year. I am becoming more interested in self-revelatory performance, so I may set my sails in that direction.

How do you see the future of drama therapy evolving?

I am not sure how I see drama therapy evolving, but I can say that I am energized by the conference theme this year, and the focus on social justice as being inseparable from our work.

What does your NADTA membership mean to you?

My NADTA membership is an annual reminder to me that I am part of a great extended family of creative healers, and that I should reach out every once in awhile and see what folks are up to!

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Dana Suttles, MA, RDT

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