Keynote Speaker: 

David Read Johnson, Ph.D, RDT-BCT

2012 Conference Keynote Speaker:  Witnesses to the Dark: the Absence, Emergence and Performance of Trauma

David Read Johnson, Ph.D. was hired right out of college as a drama therapist at the Yale Psychiatric Institute in 1973, where he fell in love with drama therapy, being part of a collaborative team, working with psychiatric patients, and operating against impossible odds. After receiving his doctorate in clinical psychology, he began work at the West Haven VA Medical Center and spent 17 years involved in inpatient psychiatry, geropsychology, and the creative arts therapies. In 1987, he had the honor of becoming the first non-physician Unit Chief of a training site at the Yale Medical School and then became the Assistant Clinical Director of the entire 175 bed Psychiatry Department.

In 1989, he was chosen to lead the new Specialized Inpatient PTSD Unit funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he collaborated with many influential and prolific leaders in the field of trauma treatment. Meanwhile, after helping to found the National Association for Drama Therapy, he served as the Chairperson of the National Coalition of Arts Therapy Associations through its culminating Joint National Conference in Washington, D.C. in 1990.

In 1997, Dr. Johnson and his colleague Hadar Lubin, MD left the VA and formed the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven, CT., a full-service specialty clinic serving clients exposed to traumatic experiences. The clinic has grown to serve hundreds of clients and their families and is known as a center of expertise in trauma-related treatment, employing drama therapists, psychologists and medical professionals.

Alongside serving six years as Editor-in-Chief of the Arts in Psychotherapy journal, Dr. Johnson has authored numerous articles, chapters, and the books: Waiting at the Gate: Creativity and Hope in the Nursing Home (with Susan Sandel); Essays in the Creative Arts Therapies: Imaging the Birth of a Profession; Current Approaches in Drama Therapy (first edition with Penny Lewis, second edition with Renee Emunah); Trauma-Centered Group Therapy with Women (with Hadar Lubin), and Assessment in Drama Therapy (with Susana Pendzik and Stephen Snow).

Along the way, David has created Developmental Transformations (DvT), a drama therapy practice based in improvisational play that helps people adapt to the instabilities in life and the constantly changing nature of experience, which is ironic, because David has never left New Haven, nor drama therapy, nor being part of a collaborative team, nor working with distressed clients, nor operating against impossible odds. He is most proud of being the father to two wonderful children, and the mentor to many amazing and talented drama therapists.