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Theatre Therapy Methodology | MET project

Project title

Metodologia de terapie prin teatru | Proiectul MET

Description of initiative

The MET project aims to develop a methodology for therapy through theatrical tools, with an effect at the neurochemical and neurocognitive levels. In collaboration with our partners, we use behavioral, electrophysiological, biochemical and imaging techniques, to determine how minimalist theatrical practices impact stress level and social closeness.
The scientific hypothesis of the project is that theatre practices modulate neuronal activity and plasticity by controlling the secretion of the neuro-hormones oxytocin and cortisol, and by adjusting the activity of the immune system. We believe that via these physiological changes, theatre therapies could induce pro-social behaviours, reduce stress, and increase the overall well-being of individuals.
The project was completed in 2021 with more than 11 experiments and 1300 subjects from which 200 of them participated in groups were the resulting procedure was applied. The procedures showed strongest results for subjects with PTSD reducing stress experienced levels and promoting prosocialness but also for elderly people promoting closeness towards trainer in the methodology. The techniques used in the methodology are mirroring, role-play and autobiographical memory retrieval. The results of the project have been published in peer reviewed journals like Neuro Image or Frontiers in Psychology. 3 minutes of social mirroring significantly increased salivary oxytocin behaviour a neurohormone involved in bond formation with correlated changes as observed through EEG . Memory retrieval increased DMN connectivity and role play increased prosocial attitudes and positive emotions and decreased anxiety levels.
The conclusions of the MET validation are based on the research activities applied on a total number of 1274 subjects, monitored by the four evaluation techniques already mentioned (biochemical measurements, electroencephalogram, magnetic resonance imaging and psycho-behavioral tests).

Further information on the initiative

Themes: Culture and...

Individual well-being


stress, well-being, neurochemichal, prosocial, neurofunctional, theatre

Target group

Adults | Older people | Youth

Cultural field

Theatre, opera




2016 - 2021

Sources of funding

ERDF, Romanian Competitiveness Operational Program

Results, benefits, impact and lessons learnt

The mirror exercise increases oxytocin levels, decreases stress levels, increases well-being and closeness to partner, and increases generosity. The effect size is gender dependent, being stronger in women and is influenced by the psychological profile of the subjects. The mirror exercise produces changes in spontaneous thoughts and changes in the main neural networks in resting state, detected by the analysis of electroencephalographic microstates. The mirror exercise produces changes in the processing of stimuli with emotional valence at the frequency level and in the activity of neural networks. The mirror exercise has gender-based dimorphic effects on the processing of emotional stimuli in scalp electroencephalographic monitoring, with significant changes in LRP (late positive potential) being observed in women.
The role play increases the positive emotions, decreasing the negative ones, also decreasing stress levels, and increasing prosocial attitudes, effects influenced by the basic level of oxytocin.
Autobiographical memory exercise increases salivary cortisol levels, the olfactory stimuli exercise (T3) generating the least amount of cortisol increase. Olfactory training increases connectivity in the DMN (Default Mode Network), which is correlated with the ease of recall and the intensity of memories. The recall training leads to a decrease in the peripheral level of TNF-α (pro-inflammatory cytokine).
MET intervention significantly increases prosocial attitudes measured by the Dictator Game task (DG); in the case of the PTSD population, the levels of stress and negative emotions decrease significantly, and the level of positive emotions increases.
The closeness towards the trainer who delivers the MET methodology increases significantly for all types of population in the study, including the elderly and subjects affected by burnout.


Univerersitatea Natională de Teatru si Film IL Caragiale București
Public / State | Other