Prison conditions are changing in China. In keeping with a trend that has also been seen in the West, a greater emphasis is being placed on combatting mental health issues, with an increased focus on rehabilitation.

A recent article goes into more depth on the benefits of this new approach, with emphasis on one aspect in particular: “psychodrama”. Prisoners taking part in psychodrama act out scenes as a group, performing their own stories in order to work through their emotions. According to a psychological counsellor at Luguan Prison, this allows prisoners to examine their past experiences, learn from them, and create hope for the future.

Unlike other psychological interventions like music therapy or counselling, psychodrama can treat a large group of prisoners at the same time. The therapy has proved popular amongst inmates so far—129 have participated in 16 psychodramas at Luguan, with the most popular themes including family and affection. 

Prisoners all over the world can benefit from therapy through drama. British citizens we support in countries such as Australia have written to us about similar programmes and how they have helped maintain mental health.

For ex-prisoners returning to the UK, Prisoners Abroad’s Resettlement team often refer clients to the organisation Synergy, which strives to rehabilitate offenders and at-risk youth via drama. Not only does theatre give individuals an opportunity to express themselves, but these activities have also been proven to keep reoffending rates low and boost participants’ employment or education prospects.

Read more about Synergy here.