Jennifer Whitlock has been enrolled in intensive psychodrama training for more than six years. Currently, she is starting starting groups to function as Practicums to help her qualify as a Certified Practitioner in Psychodrama. She is under supervision at theHudson Valley Psychodrama Institute.
What is Psychodrama?
Psychodrama is a psychotherapeutic method where the client shows the therapist what is going on in his or her life, rather than just talking about it. "Showing" can mean setting up scenes and re-enacting conversations or events from the past, present or imagined future.
A main purpose of psychodrama is to restore an individual’s creativity and spontaneity. That makes life more fun and also allows for better problem solving. When our creativity and spontaneity are down, we just keep doing the same things over and over, even when it doesn't work. Psychodrama helps us to practice more effective responses to old situations, and to try out new situations.
Psychodrama is typically done in a group setting. Many psychodramatic techniques can be also done in individual sessions. But don't worry. Jen won't force them on you. Many people who have lost their spontaneity feel intimidated by action methods. Jen is gentle, and she'll ask for your permission before she attempts to use psychodrama. It's okay to say "No."
What happens in a typical psychodrama group?
We start with warm-up activities and games to build connections, encourage spontaneity and playfulness, create a sense of safety and identify issues of concern.
Next, the group chooses a “protagonist” to act out situations from his or her past, present or imagined future, casting group members to play roles (“auxiliaries) in the drama. The leader guides the action to help the protagonist:
♦ Explore the past, present and future ♦ Experience catharsis by expressing unspoken thoughts and feelings ♦ Clarify emotional conflicts ♦ Gain clarity into the motivations of others ♦ Practice ways to change unsatisfying situations ♦ Sort which opinions and values are one’s own, and which ones came from others, and no longer need to influence one’s life
After the drama, group members and auxiliaries are invited to express how they connected with the drama, without analysis, judgment or advice. Sharing can build understanding for what other characters in the drama might be experiencing. It can provide validation as we find that others have experienced or overcome similar issues.
What are the advantages of psychodrama over other forms of therapy?
Acting out situations as if they were in the “here and now” evokes feelings and insights that logical “talking about” doesn’t. It can nudge intellectuals out of the “analytic mode.”
Transforming abstract concepts into concrete action can clarify issues. Acting out one's negative thoughts can provide a vivid picture of your inner dynamics, so you can better address them.
Social interactions can wound or heal us. Rejection and abuse can give the message that there’s something wrong with us, and cause us to isolate or present a false self.
On the other hand, a group of accepting, understanding individuals can provide a corrective experience so we can accept our imperfections, express our true selves and connect.
Copyright 2021 by Jennifer Whitlock, 526 Northampton Street, Easton, PA 18042; Jen@JenWhitlock.com; 973-222-3750