Psychodrama is an action method form of psychotherapy in which clients enact the relevant events in their lives instead of discussing them. In psychodrama clients enact various dimensions of real or imagined life experiences. In contrast to role-playing, psychodrama typically involves more in-depth exploration of emotions where a participant will enact the events of their lives for the purpose of healing. Clients are encouraged to express themselves through dramatization, role playing, and dramatic self-presentation. The process of restorative drama creates an honest and direct dialogue. Verbal and nonverbal techniques are also incorporated (Jeff Garrett Ph.D).
Psychodrama is based on daily life experiences. In the individual’s context, these experiences affect the way in which one handles relationships, responds to situations and their suffering. We may not always be conscious of the reason for our unhealthy relationships with our friends, children, spouses, workmates, neigbours and ourselves. This kind of understanding is not always easy to achieve on one’s own. The establishment and maintenance of effective relationships with significant others can be improved when we are aware of our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Psychodrama provides an environment conducive to an appreciation of the individual’s own feelings and those of others, and to the enhancement of self-awareness.
Psychodrama offers individuals a safe setting to self-exploration in a group set up. Through its varied techniques, it offers a multidisciplinary approach to communication, inspires individuals to use their creativity and actively engage in sharing their insights in a journey of building self awareness, self esteem, mindfulness, willpower, and healing. Expressive ways such as storytelling, art and drawing, writing exercises, role interviews, role-playing, sculpting, videography and photography among others provide therapeutic or intervention experience for individuals.
In order to improve and expand individuals self worth and image, the process encourages action experiences, rather than use of words alone. In essence, the psychodrama process creates verbal pictures while at the same time making room for new insights on an old issue.
The essence of psychodramatic experience lies in the inner process of imagination; of thinking as if one were someone or something else, and the external process of enactment. The experience includes concentration, memory of emotion, listening, and responding. It is about the simplest aspects of our interactions; talking to each other, working together and understanding each other. It provides space for compassion. It is about re-telling one`s story for healing.
Psychodrama will therefore:
• help you understand self, explore the perspective of others and make the connection of your thoughts/feelings and those of significant others
• help in addressing the communication issues in your daily interaction at home, school and work
• help to explore unresolved problems in our lives by providing role models and improving our attitude towards self and others
• enliven you
THE PSYCHODRAMA SESSION: SETTING THE STAGE
A full cycle of psychodrama is in three sessions: warm-up, action, and sharing
Creating a safe environment for sharing and re-enactment of traumatic experiences
• Appropriate warm ups; to build rapport, trust, commitment, effective communication and increase involvement.
• Talking circles….scene setting; from periphery to core.
A client will be taken through enactment of events in their life rather than just talk about them.
Improving self control
• Recognition of individual’s susceptibility.
• Confronting fears
• Identifying and recognizing progressive, fragmented and coping roles (resilience).
• Role training: conduct role assessment with victims, and develop functional roles (Prescriptive, restorative, containing and observing roles)
• Analysis of individual’s motivation, strength and progress in awareness and healing process.
A psychodrama session is a fun, spontaneous and creative way to experience self, learn and reinvent your person for a healthy living. It is a way to play and rediscover your inner resources and enliven your spirit.
This piece has been written by Dr. Oliver Mbayi. A Psychodrama practitioner and principal trainer at Applied Arts Kenya. In conjunction with Trizah Njuguna, Programs Coordinator & Film Producer at Applied Arts Consultancy- Kenya.