“Awakening the autonomous healing center, the power to heal oneself, is how I see the value of psychodrama and all forms of therapy.”
– Zerka T. Moreno, To Dream Again. A Memoir, 2012 –
Psychodrama is part of the so called Humanistic Psychotherapies: it is a person’s centred approach which emphasized self-actualisation and the development of one’s own capabilities and creativity. The therapist follows the client’s leads and they work together to unleash client’s potential. In specific cases I integrate this approach with the Cognitive Behavior Therapy’s techniques.
Psychodrama is an action method developed by Jacob Levy Moreno (1889-1974) and his wife Zerka Moreno*. It uses role playing and dramatisation techniques to explore the energy enclosed within emotions, dreams and conflicts in order to release the creative and spontaneous self. “Spontaneity is defined as a new response to an old situation or an adequate response to a new situation“ (Jacob Levy Moreno)
Psychodrama is used both as individual and as group therapy and can effectively improve communication and work performance within organisations.
In psychodrama, everything happens on a stage, in the ‘here and now’ of a situation. It is in this safe place that the individual can step out of her/himself and discover new truths through new encounters: not only with other individuals but also with parts of the self or with objects. This reality is what J. L. Moreno called ‘surplus reality’: “there is in psychodrama a mode of experience, which goes beyond reality, which provides the subject with a new and more extensive experience of reality, a surplus reality” (Zerka T. Moreno, 2000).
Jacob Levy Moreno also defines surplus reality as “a world which may never have been nor may ever be, yet it is absolutely real. It is a direct discourse, that is, with power or redemption”. The purpose of using psychodramatic techniques with individuals or in group psychotherapy is to rediscover the spontaneity and creativity that seats inside every living being. Anxiety, confusion and pity are the opposite of spontaneity and thus, to rediscover one´s own power, in satisfactory dealing with life, is the aim of psychodrama.
A psychodrama encounter consists of traditionally three phases:
– Warm-up: the initial stage of the process, where the individual (in a group or individual session) gets in touch with his/her own feelings and emotions, and with what urges inside to become aware of. It is usually done through a discussion with the group or with several other techniques that prepare the person to go a few steps deeper.
– Enactment: the moment in which the inner reality of the protagonist takes shape on stage. In a group session, the participants play a central part in taking up roles assigned by the protagonist. In this way, for the protagonist, the participants in the scene and for the audience, the enactment is a revealing experience.
“To act means, therefore, to be able to take the initiative and to do the unanticipated, to exercise that capacity for freedom which was given to us the moment we came into the world. To act and to be free are, in this respect synonymous: to be free means to engage in action, while through action our capacity for freedom is actualised” (Zerka Toelman Moreno, 2000).
– Sharing: during the sharing, the protagonist and group members share their feelings. It is a therapeutic moment which aims at integrating the experiences on stage with our personal lives.
* Videos about Zerka Moreno and psychodrama: