Psychodrama - Becoming Alive
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Doris Prugel-Bennett MSc, UKCP, Psycho-physical, creative methods, Supervisor
9th October, 2012
Psychodrama – becoming alive
- 1. What is Psychodrama?
Psychodrama has wide applications. Psychodramatists work with Psychodrama in a variety of settings, such as education, prisons, mental health, children’s hospice, psychotherapy, and wherever creativity seems useful for shedding light on complex aspects of life and a deeper understanding beneficial. In fact, many people have met psychodramatic action methods, such as role play, without even knowing that it is exactly that: Creative action methods first developed by J.L. Moreno (1869 – 1974). The main aspects of Psychodrama are something called a) Role Theory i.e., the theory that we all play different roles at different times. Those roles develop from earliest days as newborns to the role of the school child, to being an adult with roles as employee, manager, carer, car driver, learner, parent, shopper, etc. We identify the different roles and assess how developed they are. Are they over- or underdeveloped, are they just right? In a group setting other people will play or hold the role so that the protagonist is being freed up to reflect on her/his problem.
b) TELE: This concept describes in what way we relate to people. Are we attracted by somebody or do we avoid somebody? This concept allows people to allocate roles to members of a Psychodrama group. When people take on a role in a Psychodrama, the protagonist is freed up to watch what he/she has presented.
c) Mirroring: The concept of the mirror is the idea and the practical application of allowing a protagonist (the person who works on a particular issue within the group) to assess from outside the action to look at the issue presented i.e., assessing the problem from a distance.
d) Sociometry: “measuring” the temperature/connection in action between people and within groups.
The idea behind Psychodrama is that people like acting and do it all the time without being conscious of it. When people tell a story in everyday life they use verbal and nonverbal communication. Our bodies give us voice, sounds, gestures, movements and language and so on with which we embellish and stress what we have to say. In Psychodrama we use all those “natural” means of expression. Nobody needs any training to do that because we have all learned it from early childhood. What people are astonished about when doing Psychodrama is that when they expand their expressions, and other people listen to all of the externalisation, how quickly emotional content is accessible.
With Psychodrama we can work with the past, present and future.
- 2. Fear of working in a group
My experience is that people are reluctant to work in a group but when they have experienced a Psychodrama group they appreciate the power and potential of it.
What are people scared of?
- “Do I have to like drama?”
- “Do I need to be able to act?”
- “I could not talk about my issues in public.”
- “I am worried about what will come out of myself, such as feelings and behaviours I usually hide in public, such as envy, shame, anger, etc.”
- “I shall lose control over my emotions and behaviour.”
- “People will see my vulnerability.”
- “What about confidentiality?”
- “I would be scared about how to fit into a group which discusses emotions.”
- 3. Gains of working in a Psychodrama group
- Psychodrama can be gauged for any level and aspect of exploration: Individual, inter-relational, and all aspects of a society and culture
- Most of our problems originate from a group situation and can be accessed promptly in the dynamics of a group. And there they can be healed.
- New behaviour can practiced in the safe space of a group.
- Group members share problems and support
- People often make deep meaningful contact with other people, sometimes for the first time in their lives.
- Psychodrama group work is an inexpensive way of working through problems a person wants to explore.
Certainly, Psychodrama group work is not for everybody in every life situation but it works for many people around the world in many ways.
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