‘Psyche’ relates to the spirit or mind, while ‘drama’ relates to the stories acted out in life every day. By combining mind and action, psychodrama gets to the reality beneath the surface. Once you get below the surface you can learn things about yourself and the roles you play that will help you make a real difference to your life and the lives of people around you. (Source:http://aanzpa.org/about/psychodrama)
Psychodrama was created by J.L. Moreno. This group therapy method builds on the healing effect of interaction between people.
In a psychodrama group things slow down and we focus on both body and mind. The focus is on the here and now.
“The greatest challenge is to be in the here and now, and act." (Hale, 1981)
In the setting of a psychodrama group there is an opportunity to revisit old situations to find new perspectives or roles. Peeking into someone’s imagined future is also a possibility.
People in psychodrama groups usually experience freeing themselves from old patterns that no longer serve them and developing new and more adequate responses.
I love Max Clayton's brief explanation about the essence of a psychodrama group:
"A basic notion of a psychodrama session is that a dramatic portrayal of events is created that is as close as possible to life itself. In life itself there are the words, actions, emotions and feelings which can be seen and heard and smelled through the senses. Then there is another realm in which there are all kinds of unspoken thoughts and countless numbers of deeds that are never enacted in the everyday drama of our lives. In the same way, in the course of a psychodrama session, there are those things that are expressed in an obvious way and also many unspoken thoughts and deeds left incomplete at different moments during a drama. In the case of the psychodramatic enactment, emphasis is placed on creating an outward and obvious portrayal of unspoken thoughts and of deeds that have previously been left in the realm of contemplation.
(Max Clayton: Reflections of Doubling, AANZPA Journal #18 2009, p17)
The power of the group
We, human beings live and exist in groups like family, classmates, workplace, hobby groups, etc. Our development and personality not only depends on genetics, but is very much influenced by our relationships and interactions.
One of the basic principles of psychodrama is that we define ourselves in interactions, we compare ourselves to other people.
When it comes to therapy I’m convinced that, if the trauma happened in interaction, it shall to be healed in interaction. I believe in the healing power of interactions.
We form roles in the groups we belong to: such as child, parent, boss, etc. We also take on roles in general: the helper, the clown, the leader, etc. We have roles we are wishing to develop and roles we would like to diminish.
In the setting of a psychodrama group there is space to develop new roles and/or say goodbye to old ones. Participating another group member’s psychodrama gives an opportunity to try out several different roles.
Spontaneity and Creativity
Spontaneity and creativity are twin principles in psychodrama. (Dayton, 2005) Spontaneity is a new response to an old situation or an adequate response to a new situation. Our spontaneity warms us up to our creativity.
Videos about psychodrama:Jean Campbell's TEDX TalkWhat is psychodrama? The Sociometric Institute's Video
Moments from Zerka Moreno's session
(The Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand Psychodrama Association)ASGPP
((American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama)My profile on ASGPPMichael Gross's amazing description of psychodrama and a regular session