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Psychodrama is a form of human development which explores, through dramatic action, the problems, issues, concerns, dreams and highest aspirations of people, groups, systems and organisations. It is mostly used as a group work method, in which each person in the group can become a therapeutic agent for each other in the group. Developed by Jacob L. Moreno, psychodrama has strong elements of theater, often conducted on a stage where props can be used. The audience is fully involved with the dramatic action. Audience involvement is either through personal interest in the concerns of the leading actor, called the protagonist; or through playing some roles of the drama which helps the protagonist; or taking the form of some of the other elements of the drama, which can give voice to the rest of our wild universe; or through active engagement as an audience member. Psychodrama's core function is the raising of spontaneity in an adequate and functional manner. It is through the raising of spontaneity that a system, whether and internal human system or an organisational system, can begin to become creative, life filled and develop new solutions to old and tired problems or adequate solutions to new situations and concerns. A psychodrama is best conducted and produced by a person trained in the method or learning the method called a psychodrama director.
There are many psychodrama training institutes in many countries around the world. Here are some links to some of the relevant associations:
- Australian and New Zealand Psychodrama Association Inc,
- The American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama,
- The International Association of Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes
In psychodrama, participants explore internal conflicts through acting out their emotions and interpersonal interactions on stage. The acting becomes a replacement for the typical 'couch' that psychotherapists use to talk to their patients. A given psychodrama session (typically 90 minutes to 2 hours) focuses principally on a single participant, known as the protagonist. Protagonists examine their relationships by interacting with the other actors and the leader, known as the director. This is done using specific techniques, including doubling, role reversals, mirrors, soliloquy, and sociometry.
Psychodrama attempts to create an internal restructuring of dysfunctional mindsets with other people, and it challenges the participants to discover new answers to some situations and become more spontaneous and independent. There are over 10,000 practitioners internationally.
Although a primary application of psychodrama has traditionally been as a form of group psychotherapy, and psychodrama often gets defined as "a method of group psychotherapy," this does a disservice to the many other uses or functions of the method. More accurately psychodrama is defined as "a method of communication in which the communicator expresses him/her/themselves in action." The psychodramatic method is an important source of the role-playing widely used in business and industry. Psychodrama offers a powerful approach to teaching and learning, as well as to training interrelationship skills. The action techniques of psychodrama also offer a means of discovering and communicating information concerning events and situations in which the communicator has been involved.
References & Bibliography
Shearon, E. M. (1980). Psychodrama with children: Acta Paedopsychiatrica: International Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Vol 45(5) Feb 1980, 253-268.
- Extensive bibliography about psychodrama at The American National Psychodrama Organization
- Papers on psychodrama
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