Psychodrama in a group

publication date 18.03.2008

Psychodrama in a group

Psychodrama helps people get rid of psychological and other problems. It takes advantage of role-playing like at the theatre. Psychodrama, thus, is a psychotherapeutical method using procedures to fulfil different roles. The point here is to acquire own experience in a different role and, in doing so, to detect own inhibitions, prejudices and generally problems of psychical nature.

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Psychodrama in group

Psychodrama is a very effective psychotherapeutic method that can reveal latent problems and their causes in a very short time. The participant also has a chance to play a new role in which his or her problems should not manifest themselves any longer. Read on and learn about the course of psychodrama in a group.

Commencement of psychodrama in a group

It usually involves a group of about 10 people or more (depending on abilities of the stage manager or the psychotherapist). One half choose their subjects that they want to resolve. So there are 5 subjects the participants paint a picture of and identify. They express what the subject they have chosen means to them. It must be some target they have not achieved yet, a problematic state of mind they are in confict with, something that needs to be resolved, such as reaching personal harmony, stability in the family, ability to communicate in the society, the parent-child relationship, sufficient financial means, sharing of feelings, accepting money, etc.

Only then the subjects are introduced to the other half of the participants who are going to join those whose subjects they personally find interesting and useful. The stage manager subsequently chooses the most popular subject which is going to be resolved by means of psychodrama. The author of the selected subject chooses one person (a double) who is going to play his or her role while casting the others to play related roles for a proper depiction of situations in which the problem is encountered most often. Simply there where they need to find a solution most urgently. In order to provide for the best possible outcome of the psychodrama, it is neccessary for the author to give the most detailed description possible of positions and attitudes of the related roles (the granmother and the grandfather always together, with the grandmother wearing the trousers; the grandchildren enjoy being with them obeying implicitly her orders, etc.)

Role of a double in psychodrama

The author of the subject approaches a double, puts his or her hand on the person´s shoulder and characterizes himself or herself. They do likewise with all the other people characterizing the person whose role they are going to play. The characterization is communicated in the first person singular, as if they were speaking for that given person:  “I am a directive manager and am only interested in how my subordinates perform regardless of their personal interests.“ Also, suitable props (such as tables, office armchairs, computers, etc.) are used for a better depiction of a particular situation. Subsequently, the stage manager intervenes and asks all the participants to identify themselves with roles and positions they are going to enact. Imagination and ability to put oneself in the place of another person are of the essence here. The author again touches their double, and they tell him or her how they are feeling while playing the role of their life and position, how they perceive the whole atmosphere together with the other participants. The same routine follows in the others: the author approaches them, touches them, and they will tell him or her their feelings and impressions of the respective role that was described to them. Thus, the author gets impartial views from all the others having an opportunity to speak to them and ask them whatever question he or she needs to ask. They can give such an opportunity up to their double as well. The reason for this can be for him to be able to act as “an impartial observer“ and see his behaviour while contacting selected roles/people or, as the case may be, they simply do not feel up to asking people directly and discussing things. It frequently comes to light that the form itself (a particular manner of communication, asking other people … …) causes trouble in a given relationship.

Different modes of psychodrama course

Further psychodrama course can come in a number of various modes. Whether and how they are applied is the responsibility of the stage manager/psychotherapist. They can include: 

  • assignment of an extra role with regard to newly acquired information: if the stage manager finds out a role that is significant for the author who did not specify it at the beginning
  • change of subject: after the roles have been clarified and played it becomes clear that the subject originally specified is not a problem
  • using two doubles: each of them characterizing a different attitude or behaviour of the author
  • exchange of roles: the author and the double exchange their respective roles to play in situations with other participants. The author asks where he or she is making a mistake.

The author is replaced by a double who shows what they honestly perceive, what the author substitutes and why they use a given mode of conduct, communication, attitudes, etc. Whatever mode is used, there is always a confrontation going on between the author and the double. Finally, the author plays himself or herself differently with a new attitude. Everything can be repeated several times until the author has played their new form well. The double and the participants playing the related roles are a mirror that sets the satisfaction standard as regards the newly achived result. After the author has managed his or her new form of performance to the full satisfaction of all the others, he or she will get the most precious experience of psychodrama  -  experiencing or feeling what the new needed form of performance looks like. Having been through the psychodrama, he or she leaves not only with the solution, but also with a real experience of having solved correctly a situation that troubled them even for years of their lives.

Conclusion of psychodrama 

At the very close, all are seated in a circle with the stage manager moderating a discussion. The author begins by assessing the benefit for himself or herself, their feelings, impressions. Then the doubles join the discussion speaking about what it was like to play the role, what have they found in it, how they felt, what they would change or what solution they would offer. Sometimes it is appropriate to enact the new solution again and, most importantly, they have to be cast to the roles in which they feel well. When the new stage casting is done, the author comes againg to watch and then describe the way he or she feels and perceives the new atmosphere. The other participants also analyze their feelings in new roles in contrast to the original ones. Afterwards, they all get together again to form a circle where the author thanks each participant, relieves them of their role and gets them back to their own lives. Lastly, it is the audience who can express themselves if there are any watching the psychodrama. Ultimately, the psychotherapist asks the author to refrain from both thinking of and speaking about the subject for at least 24 hours.

Warning: Do not attempt a psychodrama without an experienced psychotherapist.

Mgr. Ivona Machová

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„Each golfer will play a bad shot. There is on him how long he will play badly.“ more >>

Jiří Střelec Jiří Střelec

Just as we make a mistake, we understand that anything we underestimated did not do correctly. It's a common learning process without which we would hardly gain valuable experience. It is very important to master emotions, realize the cause and the error no longer continue. The golf in this case, emotions are working on a lot and a bad shot golfer must correct or receives a penalty stroke. It's the same in life. There is paid for each relief.