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Psychodrama therapy is a structured form of a creative psychotherapy developed by Jacob Levy Moreno which allows the clients to explore their conflicts through guided role playing and other self-presentation methods.
It is an action-based approach that involves individuals enacting scenes from their lives in order to express hidden thoughts and emotions, gain insights about different situations and develop healthy patterns of behaviour. The long-term goal of the use of psychodrama therapy is to expand one’s ability to deal with challenging practical social circumstances. It enhances their power to understand situations from other’s point of view and in the process also improves their self-concept. It aids in the development of emotional well-being as well as evolving behavioural and cognitive skills.
Psychodrama therapy as an experiential therapy began mainly as a group therapy approach that addresses the concerns of the group who are experiencing difficulty with social and emotional function, interpersonal relationships or unresolved trauma. Sessions of psychodrama therapy consist of three phases:
... The warm-up phase
The objective of this phase is to establish trust so that a sense of safety is created among the members of the group. One common technique which is used in this phase is role presentation where members introduce their respective roles which are a part of another person’s life belonging to that group. One member of this group volunteers to be the protagonist who is the main focus of the psychodrama.
2. The action phase
The protagonist in this phase enacts scenes from his or her current life whereas other members play out characters from the protagonist’s life.
The therapist here directs the session and the use of the following techniques are done:
Role reversal – The protagonist here enacts the role of a significant person of his or her life which can help the protagonist (client) increase empathy within himself. This also helps the therapist to understand the relationship dynamics.
Mirroring – In this technique the protagonist becomes the observer while someone else plays his part. This method is especially used for a scene which makes the client feel extremely negative or if he or she feels detached from the emotions displayed in that event.
Doubling – In this method, a group member adopts and acts the behaviour, emotions, thoughts and movements of the protagonist. This technique is intended to build empathy as well as the desire for the protagonist to challenge in a healthy manner regarding some aspect of the scene.
Soliloquy – The protagonist here describes their inner thoughts and feelings to an audience. The goal of this technique is to gain conscious awareness concerning their internal feelings and thoughts and in turn help the process of catharsis.
3. Sharing Phase
The last phase known as the sharing phase involves the therapist’s guidance in the process of helping the protagonist gain insights which will lead to transformation. It involves the discussion and interpretation of the acts, the emotions, communication and thinking patterns and behaviours. The primary aim is to help clients develop a meaning as well as an understanding of their own personal experiences.
A study conducted in the year 2020 on the use of psychodrama with adolescents led to significant improvements in social skills as well as life satisfaction. (Sahin et al, 2020). Another research focusing on the treatment of eating disorders found that psychodrama therapy helped integrate the subject’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects of their personal experiences. The results confirmed that psychodrama therapy played an important role as a therapeutic model. (Stadler et.al,2016). Thus, it can be said that psychodrama therapy is beneficial as it helps increase competence as well as self-efficacy within an individual. It can also be applied to different fields and settings including training, teaching, management etc. However, necessary steps should be taken to make sure that there is proper trust and confidentiality within the group. It is also important to see that this method should not be too overwhelming for the clients. Overall, it can be understood that psychodrama therapy is a valuable action-based therapy that helps individuals gain better self -understanding and assists them to adjust to social and practical life in a healthy manner.
– By Urveez Kakalia & Debanjana Banerjee.
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