What is Psychodrama?
When a new member joins my Psychodrama group, I often ask, “Any idea what Psychodrama is?” I’ve gotten a deadpan stare or two. Responses usually range from fretting about high school Theatre class exercises to, “you want me to act something out?” In practice, Psychodrama is neither of these. Those who have been part of a Psychodrama group usually struggle to find words to explain the experience. Usually, all they can share to console that confused new member is, “You just have to see it.”
I explain Psychodrama to a newcomer like this: Psychodrama is therapy in action. With the support of a trained practitioner, Psychodrama allows us to put abstract concepts like emotions, self-doubt, and even addiction in front of us and interact with them through props, scarves, or people. There is usually no sitting in a circle in this type of group. Members are standing, moving, and interacting with the intention of supporting a chosen member, or protagonist, through an inner struggle.
Who created Psychodrama and who benefits from it?
Psychodrama was developed by Dr. J.L. Moreno after an experience running groups with disempowered sex workers in Vienna showed him the potential for healing through group therapy. After emigrating to the United States, Moreno met his wife, Zerka, and the two began training others in experiential therapy methods. Since then, Psychodrama has evolved into a variety of branches and methods. Though Psychodrama has not been studied as extensively as other therapies, research does support Psychodrama as a positive intervention for those in treatment for Substance Use Disorders. Imagine being able to hold a conversation with your addiction or get clarity on a recurring pattern in your life. Imagine how helpful it could be to identify recovery supports you may have never considered before. All these are possibilities in the space we create in a Psychodrama group.
Foundations Recovery Center Psychodrama Group
At Foundations Recovery Center, we hold one group a week dedicated to Psychodrama. Themes commonly explored include family dynamics, internal/external resources for recovery, coping with difficult emotions, and recovery goals. Though the protagonist is doing the most vulnerable therapeutic work, I like to involve as many group members as possible in supporting roles. By helping each other heal in this way, we can begin to recover the sense of authentic human connection stolen by active addiction.