Hand Drums

yaela orelowitz I integrative therapy

 Transformation through Imagination

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind"

William James


about me

Since I can remember, stories are the thing that I have lived with and through, that I have searched for with a longing to deepen my lived experiences, that I have read and watched, to make sense of all the unknowns, that I have told to be seen, that I have heard to be witness.


Here is a small story about the stories which have led me to my life work:

My first degree was in journalism. At that point Dramatherapy was not yet a Masters program in South Africa and journalism seemed to be the most obvious avenue to be able to hear and tell the stories of others: Stories which are important, from individuals whose lived experiences can impact the world. I so enjoyed meeting interesting people and documenting their experiences, but I always felt that something was missing. As a journalist my impact was through the words I wrote, I wanted more, I wanted to meet this human being in my own humanity, I wanted to experience this person's life, not merely observe and document it.


The memory of that day remains vivid in my mind: It was announced that Drama for Life, a division of the University of Witwatersrand, which was founded in order to use the arts for activism and healing on the African continent, had finally opened up a Masters in Dramatherapy. This spoke to me, this felt like me: An opportunity to meet people not only through their story, but to actually create and transform together, to allow their story to be shared, to allow new stories to manifest.

I was part of the first graduating class of Dramatherapy in South Africa and what a learning and growing experience it was! As students we were more than passive recipients of an education, but co-builders of this pioneering profession. We actively formed our training alongside our lecturers and professors and the testament of that task's payoff is that we have all gone on to do important work in the field: Some studying for their PHD's, some lecturing and heading up departments, and others doing inspiring work in communities in South Africa, as well as throughout the world.

My perspective on how I work and why was impacted by many critical moments in my training and practical experience. I met and worked with people from difficult worlds, worlds so different to mine: Refugees who live in church halls sharing a square meter space with ten other people, children with severe autism and mental disabilities who came from families with no resources for treatment. I spent time in rural Southern Africa and in elderly homes and addiction centres. Through these experiences my heart broke many times, and each time it re-grew it did so with some more space. Ultimately, I learned that I am not made to live this life alone, I am made to live with all the faces, all the stories, all the joy and pain which I have met within my heart so that my heart can widen, can take in all of life.

Meeting others' in our shared humanity constantly reminds me that despite different backgrounds, cultures and socio-economic norms,  I have never met a person that seems wholly unfamiliar. For, when my heart is open, the heart of the other can share theirs. This humanity crosses all the divides, it gives us a place called home in the other. Perhaps, beyond the skills and knowledge and experiences which my training, practical work and extensive travels have given me, the lesson in heart-expansion is the biggest one of all.

My curiosity has taken me on many wonderous travels, to learn, meet and explore cultures and people throughout the world. In March 2020, a mere week before national lockdown was declared, I arrived in the UK for an invitation of work. I have been here ever since, welcoming my new home and new life in London during the strange times of a worldwide pandemic. I currently work as a Clinical Manager and Drama Therapist at Noa Girls (https://noagirls.co.uk/) and still serve as a lecturer and supervisor for the Drama Therapy program at the University of Witwatersrand.

Academic Qualifications:

Bachelor of Arts with Distinction (Journalism & Politics), University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Bachelor of Arts with Distinction (Psychology), University of South Africa (Distant Learning)

Masters of Arts in Drama Therapy, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa (Post-graduate Research Award)

Licentiate of Speech & Drama Teaching with Distinction, Trinity College of London

Professional Training and Further Qualifications:

200 RYT (Yoga Alliance), Registered Yoga & Meditation Teacher Training, Sampoorna Yoga, India


Psychotherapy Group Practice: Race in a South African Content (SA Psychoanalytic Association)

Secret Sunrise Facilitation Training

Tanzfabrik :Movement and Embodied Practice Training

Conscious Body System Level 1 Training

Professional Experience includes:

Dramatherapist and Clinical Manager, Noa Girls, London, United Kingdom

Post-graduate lecturer Dramatherapy, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Clinical Supervisor for MA Dramatherapy, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Course Coordinator and supervisor, Dramatherapy Internship Programme, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Dramatherapist on multi-disciplinary team at Eden Schools, Johannesburg, South Africa 

Dramatherapist At Wedge Gardens Addiction Treatment Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dramatherapist at Johannesburg Hospital School

Theatre writer and director at Torah Academy High School

Public Speaking Coach & Adjudicator, South African Speech & Drama College 

Speech and Drama teacher and Licentiate teacher-trainer (first at the Ros Jaff School of Speech, Drama & Oral Communication  and later independently)



Thank you for training us in life lessons we didn't know existed

Elana Suttner, Johannesburg, South Africa

All the good that you are has forever made me into someone new

Shelley Brown, Johannesburg, South Africa

You have changed my life and brought a new dimension to it that I love, the world is a better place for your light

Chani Finger, Johannesburg, South Africa

My daughter (referred for selective mutism) enjoyed her session so much that she could not stop speaking about it all the way home

Zandile Zwana, Johannesburg, South Africa

Yaela is highly experienced, attentive to the needs of all individuals in the group, authentic, lives the lifestyle that she preaches and is highly inspiring

Ally Samakosky, Johannesburg, South Africa

I always leave our sessions feeling both revitilised and relaxed

Ariella Odes, Jerusalem, Israel

I am so grateful for what Yaela has introduced into my life

Eugenia Gomez, Johannesburg, South Africa

Yaela was able to understand my background, my body and my mind and allow me to connect with myself in a deeper way. With her I always felt comfortable yet extremely challenged. She is simply amazing.

Ruchi Ribeiro, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Thank you Yaela for bringing such calm into our weeks: Your humour, patience and belief in us- you are a true gem!

Siobhan Wilson, Johannesburg, South Africa

Yaela's energy and attitude has spread love through our entire group, giving us all a special anchor point in our week of positivity and peace. Anyone privileged enough to spend time in her innovative sessions will reap the rewards

Sian Cohen, Dublin, Ireland

Hand Drums

working with me looks like......

       R E D

The belief in the inherent health and wellbeing of the client is integral to my approach as a therapist.  The process is used not simply to heal a fractured spirit or an over-wrought mind, but to guide a client back towards themselves. Through this process the client is able to re-meet their inherent creativity which allows them to see their life from varying perspectives, open up to new possibilities, and reconnect to their innate playful curiosity. This process hopes to allow them to re-visit their life in a more dynamic and enlivened relationship. 

fear has been learned, which means it can be unlearned

Fear, which is perhaps a core underlining theme, both covertly and overtly, with those who seek therapy, can cause a flight/fight/freeze response. This central-nervous-system shutdown disallows the client from moving forward, or facing life's challenges with confidence and readiness. In order to guide clients towards living and making life decisions from a place of empowerment, ownership, and joy we use the model of RED to facilitate new neural pathways.

The core values of how I work and why are underpinned in RED








creative risks using the therapeutic relationship as a rehearsal room for life


The body and movement are incorporated in sessions to invite physical mobility which allows the "stuckness" of fear to be released on a cellular level



With language we make the imagined real, we bring down dreams into reality, we tell our story anew. Words are the concrete bricks for the dreams of your future self

See FAQ page for more information about how this may look in your therapy sessions.