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Community Highlights: Meet Krista Verrastro

Today we’d like to introduce you to Krista Verrastro.

Hi Krista, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I realized that I wanted to become a drama therapist when I was in high school. I had already planned to be a therapist due to always having enjoyed helping people and had recently discovered the healing power of theater, so I knew that I had to pursue drama therapy when I learned about it while researching for an essay for drama class. I thought, “I can combine my love of theater with my love of helping people!”. I studied psychology and theater at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study for my Bachelor’s degree. I then immediately got my Master’s degree in drama therapy at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. I received my Registered Drama Therapist credential in 2007.

Although music was actually my artistic medium of choice as a child, drama therapy appealed to me because we all naturally play different roles in our everyday lives. I love helping people explore the roles they get stuck in or want more of in their lives. I also love helping people explore difficult emotions in a playful way through metaphor, storytelling, and other creative methods. I have participated in drama therapy myself so know its healing powers. I even overcame my fear of spiders through it!

I’ve worked in several different settings since becoming a drama therapist (such as hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient mental health clinics, and schools). The job I was at longest before going into private practice was at an agency that helps survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse/assault, and human trafficking. That experience gave me my niche in private practice, which is that of trauma. I also enjoy helping people who feel different for various reasons. Thus, my tagline: helping people who feel used, abused, neglected, or rejected transform from surviving to thriving.

In addition to doing individual work with clients in my private practice, I also facilitate workshops. I lead vision board workshops that help people actively tackle their goals and obstacles. During the pandemic, I found that these translated well online, and I plan to continue offering such workshops in-person and online. Local company, Michele’s Granola, found my workshops online and invited me to do one for their whole team, which was great!

I have also given presentations for various groups, including one on self-care at Humanim. I feel very fortunate to have found a career that allows me to be creative and have fun while also helping people.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest struggle I’ve had as a drama therapist is explaining what I do since it’s still such a little-known field. Even though the national organization (North American Drama Therapy Association) has existed since 1979, there are still less than one thousand registered drama therapists. More people are often familiar with art therapy and music therapy when they are familiar with other creative arts therapies. People often mistakenly think that it is only used in group settings, with children, or with actors.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a drama therapist in private practice. I combine drama therapy, talk therapy, and EMDR therapy to help people heal from trauma or feeling different. I help people who feel used, abused, neglected, or rejected transform from surviving to thriving. My clients often tell me that they feel that our work helps them find or reclaim their voice.

What sets me apart is that I’m a rare drama therapist. This allows me to work creatively with clients instead of just use talking in therapy. Working creatively provides greater chances for validation and insight in some ways. I invite you to check out my website for more details about why drama therapy is so beneficial, especially my blog page.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I think that drama therapy, and the creative arts therapies in general, are going to become more popular and appreciated. There are more and more studies coming out that indicate that creative and somatic therapies are especially beneficial for healing trauma. The science is finally catching up to what many of us have known intuitively for years!

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