Psychodrama - Methods

Methods

In psychodrama, participants explore internal conflicts by acting out their emotions and interpersonal interactions on stage. A psychodrama session (typically 90 minutes to 2 hours) focuses principally on a single participant, known as the protagonist. Protagonists examine their relationships by interacting with the other actors and the leader, known as the director. This is done using specific techniques, including mirroring, doubling (psychodrama), soliloquy, and role reversal. The session is often broken up into three phases - the warm-up, the action, and the post-discussion.

During a typical psychodrama session, a number of clients gather together. One of these clients is chosen as the protagonist, and the director calls on the other clients to assist the protagonist's "performance," either by portraying other characters, or by utilizing mirroring, doubling, or role reversal. The clients act out a number of scenes in order to allow the protagonist to work through certain scenarios. This is obviously beneficial for the protagonist, but also is helpful to the other actors, allowing them to assume the role of another person and apply that experience to their own life. The focus during the session is on the acting out of different scenarios, rather than simply talking through them. All of the different elements of the session (stage, props, lighting, etc.) are used to heighten the reality of the scene.

The three sections of a typical session are the warm-up, the action, and the sharing. During the warm-up, the actors are encouraged to enter into a state of mind where they can be present in and aware of the current moment and are free to be creative. This is done through the use of different games. One such game is called the "lifeboat warmup." In this warmup, the clients are told that they are in a lifeboat with a limited amount of space. In order to survive, an actor must convince the client that he or she deserves a seat on the lifeboat. Next, the action section of the psychodrama session is the time in which the actual scenes themselves take place. Finally, in the post-discussion, the different actors are able to comment on the action and share their empathy and experiences with the protagonist of the scene.

Mirroring is an important technique in psychodrama. In mirroring, the protagonist is first asked to act out an experience. After this, the client steps out of the scene and watch as another actor steps into their role and portrays the client. Afterwards, the client is asked to comment on the action and/or reenter the scene. Doubling is another psychodramatic technique, in which the client is joined by another actor in his or her portrayal of him- or herself. The second actor assumes the role of an "auxiliary ego," which reveals hidden parts of the protagonist's behavior, by acting as him or her. Role playing is another method, in which the client portrays a person or object that is problematic to him or her. In soliloquy, another technique, the client speaks his or her thoughts aloud in order to build self-knowledge. Finally, role reversal is a technique in which a client is asked to portray another person while a second actor portrays the client in the particular scene. This not only prompts the client to think as the other person, but also has some of the benefits of mirroring, as the client sees him- or herself as portrayed by the second actor.

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