Psychodrama Therapy

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When people are caught up in the middle of their own trauma and addictive patterns, it is often difficult to truly understand the magnitude of the chaos. Many times, when an individual has experienced pain, they often avoid re-living or thinking about the past. However, the memory is still painful and it is often still affecting the individual subconsciously. A good book, movie, or even witnessing a similar situation from the outside can scare and shed light on how individuals may be perceiving a situation. Oftentimes, people are able to identify with characters as they learn from their struggles and triumphs. In situations where an individual is battling addiction, substances become a way for an individual to not deal with the past. Therapeutic modalities such as psychodrama will help addicted individuals face and process past traumas and painful experiences.

What is Psychodrama Therapy?

Psychodrama therapy is an active and creative approach that utilizes role-playing and guided exercises to address and resolve trauma and problems associated with addiction head-on. Psychodrama also helps participants to gain a third-party perception of past conflicts and interpersonal dynamics. Considering behavioral and mental health therapies, psychodrama methods are often employed to help individuals to learn how to better manage stress, improve communication methods, engage in social settings, and learn healthy coping mechanisms. Psychodrama therapy can be especially useful for individuals recovering from substance abuse who have experienced trauma. This therapeutic modality can help individuals explore past traumas while learning how to improve their life skills in a clinical setting.

How Does Psychodrama Work?

A typical psychodrama session typically begins with a warmup in which the director of the group decides on a theme to be explored through dramatic role-playing. A protagonist is chosen to play the main role and represent the chosen theme in which all members of the group can identify with the dramatic scene. As the psychodrama continues, time is spent in which the group begins assuming the roles of other significant players in the drama and acting it out according to past experiences. The protagonist will have the opportunity to explore alternative endings through improvising and possibly reach peaceful resolutions. The group will then discuss their personal connections and suggestions to the dramatic scene. 

Here are some other methods often used during psychotherapy:

  • Soliloquy – This method involves the outward processing of an individual’s thoughts or feelings in the moment of the dramatic scene.
  • Double – An individual will play themselves as a “double” interprets the individual adding in potential underlying fears, motives, or emotions they believe the first individual is trying to hide.
  • Mirror – Mirroring is a technique in which one group member imitates another to help the other participant see themselves more accurately.
  • Role reversal – This is when two individuals swap their normal roles to practice putting themselves in another’s shoes to help them see how others see them.

How Does Psychodrama Therapy Help in Addiction Recovery?

Psychodrama is a therapeutic approach that helps individuals gain insight into themselves and their emotional state while also confronting issues. Furthermore, psychodrama can be helpful for individuals recovering from addiction by helping them gain awareness, healthy coping skills, better express their feelings, and enhance overall social skills. When used in addiction treatment, psychodrama group sessions address conflict and concerns that impact the group as a whole. These specific topics may range from situations that may lead to relapse, past trauma, unhealthy family dynamics, or past experiences where drugs or alcohol presented behavioral and social problems. 

Psychodrama sessions often help recovering individuals identify unhealthy behaviors while learning how to manage possible triggers and stressors. Group members will learn how to improve communication, life skills, interpersonal, family, and social dynamics. Psychodrama therapy also helps clinical teams to better diagnose personal and group concerns that can be implemented into the individual’s treatment plan. This method of therapy provides a hands-on approach that provides individuals with new, peer insights into themselves, their emotions, and their actions. Essentially, self-awareness is key to recovering from addiction and psychodrama helps connect the dots with an individual better understanding oneself.

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