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Psychodrama Therapy What Is It?

Psychodrama is an active and creative therapeutic approach that uses guided drama and role playing to work through problems. Developed by Dr. Jacob Moreno, psychodrama can be effective individually or in a group (sociodrama), and is sometimes offered in mental health programs, schools and businesses.

During each psychodrama session, participants reenact specific scenes and experiences with guidance from a therapist. These scenes may include past situations, dreams and preparations for future events. In a group setting, other participants play the roles of significant others or the audience, offering support and bringing to the surface underlying beliefs and issues.

What is Psychodrama Therapy Like?

In this form of therapy, clients will often play out multiple scenarios that depict specific life events, fantasies, dreams, or mental states. These dramatic presentations represent a client’s perception of a situation or are creations of their emotional processing mechanism. The therapist may encourage the client to take on other roles or assign identities to objects to expand the scene. Psychodrama is a very effective tool when applied in a group setting. When psychodrama is conducted in front of an audience, the participation is sensory and reactive. The protagonist may even invite the audience to participate further through verbal or physical actions, therefore creating a larger field through which the therapeutic process can exist.

Each Psychodrama session Consists of Three Phases: Warm-up, Action and Sharing.

WARM-UP is designed to produce atmosphere of creative possibility. This phase is concerned with establishing sociometric connections, building cohesiveness and increasing spontaneity. At this phase issues and concerns central to the group emerge and a protagonists is chosen. The protagonist may be chosen by the group, by the leader or by oneself. The group becomes the safe container, the womb within which a child is warmed up to the ultimate spontaneous act of birth. ACTION: The protagonist steps on the stage to take action on his behalf, to make changes around the issue he/she identified as a difficulty in the warm-up phase. The protagonist holds the intent and shares it with the group and the director. The action is completely unscripted; unfolding as the protagonist moves from scene to scene, unblocking spontaneity, getting closer to his center to the truth, through trance and catharsis to new insights and creative, novel ways of being. Throughout the whole process he experiences consistent support and guidance from the director who utilizes techniques such as role-reversal, doubling, mirroring, surplus reality, etc. to help the process. Other group members are involved by either playing auxiliary roles in the protagonist’s drama, or by doubling, or by holding the energy of the space for the protagonist and for thems’elves and by participating emotionally in the protagonist’s story. SHARING: After the enactment is complete the protagonist re-enters the group. He/she had given the generous gift of bravery and truth, and it is now his tum to rest and receive while other members of the group share with himlher their feelings and insights that were brought up by the protagonist’s drama. After taking a huge risk of exposing his inner struggles, the protagonist can hear other people share similar painful feelings and experiences, so he feels accepted, supported and understood for who he/she is. What used to be private shame becomes public victory for all involved as the real human experiences are revealed and shared.

OVERVIEW OF PSYCHODRAMA ELEMENTS AND TECHNIQUES

PROTAGONIST: A group member in the center of a psychodrama enacting a theme from his/her personal life or a theme chosen by the group as a central concern. “The protagonist is asked to be himself on the stage, to portray his own private world. He is told to be himself, not an actor, as the actor...
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