Psychodrama - An Introduction
"Freud analysed dreams, I teach people to dream."
- Jacob L. Moreno -
I still was studying clinical psychology and psychopathology at the University of Bonn when I came to my first psychodrama session. It was a fascinating world that opened up for me. Within four hours, the life of one person seemed to unfold and many different aspects and new ways of experiencing it were discovered. It all happened in the here and now and could be deeply felt. Never before had I had such a deep experience in being together with other people and interacting with them. I was fascinated and decided that this was the kind of therapy I wanted to learn. Until then, I mainly had been trained in using cognitive behavioral approaches and although I value their effectiveness, Psychodrama touched me deeply enough to begin to change my life.
Psychodrama is an action method of group-psychotherapy. Participants in Psychodrama re-create life-action contexts. Clients then are encouraged to continue and complete their actions through dramatization, role-playing and dramatic self-presentation. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are utilized. A number of scenes are enacted depicting for example memories of specific happenings in the past, unfinished situations, inner dramas, fantasies, dreams, preparations for future risk taking situations, or simply unrehearsed expressions of mental states in the "here and now". In these scenes, the experience is as if it were the real life situation. Other parts may be taken by group members or sometimes inanimate objects. There is a whole variety of techniques that are employed, such as role-reversal, doubling, mirroring, conquertizing, maximizing and soliloquy. Usually the phases of a group session are warm-up, action, working through closure and sharing of the other group members.
Psychodrama, created by Jacob L. Moreno M.D.,psychiatrist and philosopher, in the early 1910's, is probably the oldest form of modern group psychotherapy. Moreno was the first to use the "here and now" principle in therapy and established the importance of Encounter. His primary interest was how human beings interact with each other, what roles they play in their lives. Psychodrama offers the possibility of meeting one's "real self" and interacting in a multidimensional encounter situation.
Moreno tried to understand the human being not from the point of view of pathology but from that of health. The healthy person is seen as one who can interact with other human beings in an adequate and effective way for his or hers own sake. Moreno emphasized the importance of our spontaneity, aliveness, and creativity and his goal was to make the client the creator of his own life.