The overthinking. Endless inner dialogue. Being “stuck in your head.” Constant rationalizing. Denial. These are some of the common but less addressed experiences of those who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health issues.
What can you do with the experiences, thoughts, and fears that are difficult to verbalize? What if it is as yet unresolved? How can one move past the endless churn of thoughts and emotions over it?
Psychodrama or drama therapy incorporates the beneficial aspects of live-action role-playing and dramatic self-presentation in order to close the mental gap. Patients can act out and problem-solve in real-time to bring their event or circumstance closure.
Participants will develop a better understanding of their life and their history. They will more easily resolve issues surrounding trauma or loss and learn to overcome their fears. Taking part in drama therapy can also help improve familial, professional, social, and intimate relationships.
It can be a release of strong emotions and the breakdown of blocked thoughts and mental processes. Psychodrama is a platform where coping skills are practiced and sharpened. Practitioners have seen this therapeutic treatment result in a greater sense of competence and confidence.
Psychodrama is a form of holistic experiential therapy. This modality allows patients the opportunity to act out and explore events from their past and any presenting issues. Drama therapy is a powerful modality that allows patients to move beyond discussing their issues into tangible actions.
Blending both theater and psychology, drama therapy creates a safe space for supportive discovery and testing of new behaviors. Although it is technically an individual treatment, it is always performed in a group setting.
For several reasons, the group dynamic is more beneficial to a patient’s healing and recovery journey. Participants gain valuable insight and understanding into their own experiences while simultaneously supporting others in their own drama as well.
There are three primary phases that make up the format of Psychodrama therapy, the warm-up phase, the action phase, and the sharing phase.
This is an essential element of the process as it is tied to how well members of the group can relate to one another. Here, participants will get to know each other and establish some level of trust. The goal is to move and act cohesively.
This is the most complex phase of the three and is where the fun and breakthroughs often occur. Participants will create a scene from the life of someone in the group that will then be acted out.
Direction is given by the therapist, who guides the group through the scene. The individual whose life is on display will act as the protagonist, while others will engage with the scene in designated roles.
Various roles and techniques employed during the acting phase include role reversal, mirroring, doubling, and soliloquy. Each of these techniques is designed to bring new insight to the patient and help them understand their thoughts and emotions linked to the portrayed event.
The sharing phase primarily involves the patient and the therapist as they talk through what was just displayed and address presenting thoughts and emotions. The goal is to help the patient look at the circumstance from a new perspective.
Due to its active nature, psychodrama therapy has proven effective at treating a myriad of addictions and disorders. It is both a platform to express strong emotions as well as a place to practice controlling them.
Drama therapy would be a beneficial treatment for individuals with unresolved past trauma or loss, mood and personality disorders, poor self-image, eating disorders, and a history of substance abuse.
Due to the emphasis on creating safety and establishing trust, not every patient will be a good fit for psychodrama therapy. Most practitioners prescreen all participants in advance and prepare existing group members for new participants.