Monday 15 October 2012



Psychodrama is a group therapy that involves more than one participant. Groups have their own specific goals and advantages which help therapists/ counselors to deal with people more effectively.
Mental health professionals have developed different strategies for prevention and treatment of psychological problems. The services offered by individual counseling are limited so group counseling is practiced for some patients. Group counseling enables practitioners to work with more clients at a time. To make group counseling more effective, practitioners need a theoretical grounding so that they could be able to use these theories creatively. Group counseling may be a treatment of choice foe patients. Some groups deal primarily with helping people make fundamental changes in their ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Counseling groups are often problem oriented, with their content and aim determined largely by the members.
Ideally members decide for themselves the specific goals of the group experience. Here are some general goals often shared by members of counseling groups:
  • To learn trusting oneself and others.
  • To increase awareness and self knowledge, to develop a sense of one’s unique identity.
  • To recognize the commonality of member’s needs, problems and to develop the sense of universality.
  • To increase self acceptance, self confidence, self respect, and to achieve a new view of oneself and others.
  • To develop concern and compassion for others.
  • To find out alternative ways of dealing with normal developmental issues and of resolving certain conflicts.
  • To increase self direction, interdependence, and responsibility towards oneself and others.
  • To become aware of one’s choices and to make choices wisely.
  • To make specific plans for changing certain behaviors and to commit oneself to follow these plans.
  • To learn more effective social skills.
  • To become more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.
  • To learn how to challenge others with care, concern, honesty and directness.
  • To clarify one’s values and decide whether and how to modify them.

Group Counseling has a number of advantages as a vehicle for helping peoples make changes in their attitudes, beliefs about themselves and others, feelings and behaviors.
These advantages are:-
  • The participants can explore their style of relating with others and learn more effective social skills.
  • Members can discuss their perceptions of one another and receive valuable feed back on how they are being perceived in the group.
  • In many ways the counseling group provides a recreation of the participants every day world.
  • The group provides the sample of reality.
  • The group offers understanding and support, which promotes the members willingness to explore problems they have brought with them to the group.
  • The participants achieve a sense of belonging and through the cohesion that develops they learn ways of being intimate, caring and challenging.
  • In supportive atmosphere members can experiment with alternative behaviors.
  • Participants can compare the perceptions they have of themselves with the perceptions other s have of them and then decide what to do with this information.
  • In a sense group members get a clearer indication of the kind of person they would like to become, and they come to understand what is preventing them from becoming that person.

The group leader is an important figure who directs the entire group. Some personal characteristics are related to effective group leadership which can contribute either positively or negatively in group process. These characteristics are
It means that leaders are not pre occupied with other matters when they come to group session, are emotionally present and are willing to enter the psychological world of the client.
Personal Power:
It involves self confidence, and an awareness of one’s influence on others. Powerful leaders encourage members to get in contact with their unused power not to foster dependency.
Effective group leaders should exhibit courage in their interaction with group members. They show courage by taking risks, admitting mistakes, by being occasionally vulnerable, by acting on intuitions, beliefs and by discussing their thoughts and feelings about group process.
Willingness to confront oneself:
Leaders must show that they are willing to question themselves. Self awareness of all conflicts, problems, defenses and weeks spots requires the willingness to confront one self.
Sincerity and authenticity:
One of the leader’s most important qualities is the sincere interest in the growth and well being of others. Sincerity involves being direct and giving members feedback that is honest and helpful. Authenticity involves self disclosure, sharing of feelings and reactions to what is going on in group.
Sense of identity:
Leaders should have a clear sense of their own identity to help others discover who they are. This means knowing what you value and living by internally derived standards, not by expectations of others. It means being aware of your own strengths, limitations, needs, fears, motivations and goals.
Belief in the group process and enthusiasm:
The leader’s deep belief in the value of group process is essential to the success of the group. The group leader brings enthusiasm to members that can have an infectious quality. Leaders need to show that they enjoy their work with group and like being with the group.
Inventiveness and creativity:
Leaders should avoid getting trapped in internalized techniques and programmed presentations. They should be open to new experiences, life styles and values that differ from their own.

Although the specific characteristics of a productive group vary with the type of group, here are some general trends of a group in its working stage:
·         There is a here and now focus. People have learned to talk about what they are feeling and to have meaningful interactions. They are not concerned with issues of outer world instead they focus on what is going on within the group.
·         Members more readily identify their goals and concerns and they have learned to take responsibility for them. They are not confused that what the leader wants from them.
·         Members are willing to work and practice outside of the group to achieve behavioral changes. They are carrying out home work assignments and bring into the sessions any difficulties they face in practicing new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. They are willing to try to integrate thoughts, emotions and behaviors in their every day life situations. They can point out themselves when they are again thinking in old patterns.
·         Most of the members feel included in the group.
·         Participants listen to one another and do productive work. They can also tend to move in a direction they want.
·         Members assess their level of satisfaction with the group. In productive groups, members realize that they have part in outcome and if they are not getting what they want, they say so.

Psychodrama is one of the oldest theories devised for working with groups (fine, 1979). Johnson and Johnson (1991) defined group as a collection of two or more individuals, who meet in face to face interaction, interdependently, with the awareness that each belongs to the group and for the purpose of achieving mutually agreed upon the goals. Group psychotherapy is sometimes referred to as a group that specializes in “personality reconstruction” (ASGW, 1990, p.14). Psychodrama includes both individual and group emphasis (Moreno, 1946). It was specifically designed with the structure of group in mind so it is mainly group focused. It stresses inter personal interactions. This approach was created in the 1930s by J. L. Moreno (1889-1974). Psychodrama had its origin in Theatre of Spontaneity which was started in 1921 by Moreno in Vienna. The idea for it evolved out of Moreno’s creativity which was fostered by his encounter with children and his love for spontaneity and the theater. So psychodrama became an extension of Moreno’s personality.  It expanded later by his wife, Zarka Toeman Moreno and by many other followers.
In this approach, the client has to act past, present or predictable life situations and different roles in order to increase his understanding about himself, achieve catharsis and develop behavioral skills. Drama does not mean that people have to act in a histrionic way instead it refers to modifying our lives as if they were dramatic situations and we were the actors. The actors directed by Moreno had no scripts but they used to perform according to events in newspapers or on topics suggested by audience. Audiences were invited to discuss their reactions on different scenes and on the performance of actors on different scenes. Moreno realized that in this process both audience and actors experience release of their repressed feelings.
 Psychodrama is similar to psychoanalysis in that it emphasizes a freeing of individuals from the irrational forces that bind them into dysfunctional patterns of behaving. However, psychodrama differs from psychoanalysis in its emphasis on action. In contrast to psychoanalysis, psychodrama emphasizes personal interaction and encounter, focus on here and now, spontaneity and creativity, full expression of feelings, and reality testing” (Corey, 1990, p.223).  Then psychodrama was conceptualized as a formal system in which Moreno stresses the uniqueness of the approach by having clients relieve, instead of retell or analyze their conflicts.
The whole process of psychodrama combines imagination, intuition, impulses and dramatic physical actions to discover psychological problems. Role playing is based on psychodrama but it is deeper. It is a complex group method which helps people relate to one another more effectively. It helps people in problem solving, better communication with others and greater self awareness. Psychodrama helps people to express themselves, explore their conflicts and problems, get feed back, reduce loneliness, and experience different ways of approaching others in their lives. Zerka Moreno (1983) writes that “psychodrama represents a major turning point from treatment of individuals in isolation and towards the treatment of the individual in groups, from treatment by verbal methods towards treatment by action methods” (p. 158). Rather than have individuals talk about their hopes, dreams and struggles, Moreno asked people he worked with to show their feelings and situations in the unfolding group setting (Blatner & Blatner, 1997).
Psychodrama offers a way for clients to express their hopes, fears, expectations, unexpressed resentments, projections, internalizations and judgmental attitudes. Clients are helped to ventilate these feelings. They are encouraged to maximize these expressions rather than to reduce it. 
Moreno believed that a major purpose of therapeutic process is to promote the client’s creativity in coping difficult life situations. Creativity does not emerge from planning but through actions and active experimentation. “Creativity is catalyzed by imagination, play and improvisation” (Blatner, 2001). The aim of psychodrama is to promote creativity in individual, group and culture as a whole. Moreno was inspired by the lives of great philosopher in history like Socrates, Buddha and Jesus. Moreno thought that people rely only on what has been created and are not open to challenge of creating a different. According to him God is the source of creativity in every moment. According to psychodrama each person is responsible for becoming more creative and promoting creativity in others.

According to Moreno, spontaneity is an adequate response to a new situation or a novel response to an old situation. For example Merry, instead of panicking when she has given a math test, begins to sit calm and to study the whole test before making a response. It involves reflection and gives people ability to act according to the situation they face without anxiety. Moreno observed that children are more spontaneous than older people. As people grow they become less and less spontaneous. To develop this spontaneity Moreno developed methods for training spontaneity to free people from stereotype responses. In this way people would be able to meet a new situation from a fresh perspective. Spontaneity can not be developed in people easily. To facilitate spontaneity in group members the group leader has to model spontaneous behavior.
Working in the present moment:
This concept is closely related to creativity and spontaneity. Action in the “here and now” is an important concept of psychodrama. People distance themselves from problems by thinking of them in past. Psychodrama encourages people to become involve in the immediacy of the issues and events. Thus in psychodrama clients act about problems “as if” they were occurring in the present moment. Psychodrama directors say to members, “don’t tell us show us”. A positive aspect of psychodrama is that reexperiencing a scene from the past gives the participants the opportunity to understand how that incident affected them when it occurred and t deal differently with that incident now. Individuals can assign different meanings to it in this way. Clients work through unfinished business and assign new ending to an earlier situation. Psychodrama can also deal with a present conflict. It can also enable members to bring the future into the now. When people act what they are thinking or feeling they come out of their defenses towards concrete experiences.
The encounter occurs when individuals connect with one another in a meaningful way during acting. Encounter involves total physical and psychological contact between persons on an intense, concrete and complete basis in the context of here and now. The encounter can relate to past, present or future circumstances but it always involves taking a situation or a moment in one’s life and expanding it in various dimensions (Corey, 1990, p.223). It involves directness of communication and self disclosure. Through this process people understand one another deeply. Moreno (1914) summed up encounter in the following poetic way:
“A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face. And when you are near, I will tear your eyes out and place them instead of mine and you will tear my eyes out and will place them instead of yours, and I will look at you with your eyes and you will look at me with mine.” (p.3)
Tele is the total communication of feelings between people, “the cement which holds groups together” (Moreno, 1945). It involves interpersonal and reciprocal empathy. J.L Moreno (1964) defines tele as the two way flow of feelings between the people. For example, two people tell each other that what qualities they admire in the other and how it makes them feel when they think that they have expressed their feelings. It is a therapeutic factor which brings change. Positive tele is called “rapport” and negative tele is called “bad vibes”. When tele is positive people are empathic with each other and when tele is negative misunderstanding is possible.
Surplus reality:
Surplus reality refers to those enactments that reflect the psychological world of the client. It is psychological experience that goes beyond the boundaries of physical reality. These experiences which include the relationship with those who have died or with God or those who are never born are as important for people as actual physical things. The concrete expressions of the imagination enable the psychotherapeutic exploration of dimensions of events that do not occur in reality. For example a daughter can talk to a mother who died before they had a chance to say good bye to each other. Using surplus reality individuals can encounter people who are lost and to talk about unexpressed feelings and answer questions. Clients are helped to discover view points they had not entertained.
Catharsis and insight:
Catharsis involves emotional purging e.g. some clients scream out to express their grief reaction. The experiential aspect of therapy is to release emotions through tears, laughter, anger guilt and hope and this is called catharsis. Catharsis is a natural part of psychodramatic process but it is not in itself a goal. Emotional release may lead to insight or increased awareness of the problem. People also get awareness of their feelings when other group members or audience share their feelings about what happened on the stage. Control over repressed feelings is only possible after becoming aware of those feelings. After the experience of catharsis, new perception and understanding about the problem is developed that is called insight. For example clients might say that “I never realized that I was so upset about this situation.” Both catharsis and insight are experienced by participants and audiences.
Reality testing:
People can find out that how others feel and what can be the result of their certain behaviors. Psychodrama provides a safe setting in which people can try socially unacceptable behaviors. When people express their feelings, the group leader can tell them that they are making unrealistic assumption and there can be other side of picture as well. The group can also help the clients that how they can think about different alternatives which will lead toward the solution of their problems. So performance maximizes the process of interpersonal learning.
Role Theory:
In 1930s Moreno was the founder of social role theory that is a way of thinking and talking about psychological phenomenon that has many practical implications. Participants are free to try different roles in psychodrama and become aware of different parts of themselves. They can challenge stereotyped ways of behaving. Role playing is an extension of psychodrama in which people can modify or redefine their roles. Psychodrama helps people to get insight that how they play different roles in their lives.

Psychodrama consist of the following components: a director (usually the main group therapist), a protagonist (the person who is presenting the problem to be explored), auxiliaries (who play roles of others in enactment), the audience (other group before whom the problem is being explored), and the stage (usually a space in a room).

The Protagonist:
It is the name of the role a person takes on when he or she becomes the actor in psychodrama. Group members may interact for a while and when an issue is raised with one of them the therapist and group members agree that now the psychodramatic exploration can take place then the person for whom the issue is most relevant, becomes the protagonist. Sometimes the role is assumed voluntarily and sometimes therapist or group members suggest the role to any one. The protagonist selects the event and then discusses with the therapist about it. The scene is chosen from the past or future and is played as if it is happening in the here and now. It is not necessary to remember the exact words instead the protagonist has to portray just the essential elements. The protagonist can explore any scene that seems significant and he can also decide that in which direction he wants to lead the scene.
The Auxiliary Egos:
They are supporting players who play the roles of significant others in the life of the protagonist. These persons may be living or dead, real or imagined. Auxiliaries can also play the roles of inanimate objects or any other thing that is relevant to protagonist’s psychodrama. Zerka Moreno (1987) notes four functions of the auxiliary which are
a)      To play out the perceptions held by the protagonist at least in the beginning;
b)      To investigate the interaction between the protagonist and their own roles;
c)      To interpret this interaction and relationship and
d)     To act as therapeutic guides in helping the protagonist develop an improved relationship.
The protagonist can select the members from the group. He/ she may chose people due to their characteristics or their resemblance with their loved ones. Due to these choices, the interaction will be more spontaneous, real and effective. The protagonist tells about the style of that person whose role the auxiliary is going to play. The auxiliary has to focus on protagonist’s drama rather than starting his own psychodrama.

The Audience:
The audiences also play a role in the drama by functioning psychologically as a kind of externalized mirror. Psychodrama benefits the whole group not just the audience. They identify with the protagonist or auxiliaries and in this way release their own feelings when they empathize with them. They also gain insight about some of their own interpersonal conflicts in this way. They also provide support and feedback to protagonist.
The Stage:
It is the area where enactment takes place. There should be enough space for the movement of actors. The stage is generally empty but it is helpful to have available some chairs, table and other items. If the stage is nit available, the section of room can be used.
The psychodrama group leader is the psychodrama director of the drama. According to the J. L. Moreno (1964), the group leader function as in number of ways including,
  • Producer.
  • Catalyst/Facilitator.
  • Observer/Analyzer.
The psychodrama director has a number of roles. J. L. Moreno (1964) explains the following roles of the group leader of psychodrama or director.
·         The director helps in the selection of the protagonist and decides which of the psychodramatic technique is best suitable to deal with the problem of the client.
·         He organizes the psychodrama, plays a key role in warming up the group and pays a great attention to what is going on and emerges in the drama.
·         He functions as a catalyst and facilitator in the way that he assists the protagonist in developing a scene and facilitates the free expression of the feelings.
·         He will make interpretations to help the protagonist to develop the new understanding of the problem only occasionally.
“Haskell (1975, pp. 161-164) describes these specific functions of psychodramatic directors”. (Corey, 2004, pp. 211).
  • The psychodrama director plans the session.
  • He provides an accepting and understanding atmosphere.
  • He warms up the group so that participants of the drama will be psychologically ready to identify their goals and explore their personal issues.
  • He provides support and direction for the protagonist.
  • He suggests those relationships that might be explored, scenes that might be enacted and experiments that might be tried.
  • He stops the action whenever necessary for clarification and makes sure that the roles are being enacted properly.
  •  He pays careful attention to the reactions of the group members and tries to bring other participants in the psychodrama if it seems appropriate.
  • He protects the protagonist.
  • He leads a group in sharing after the action is over.
  • He summarizes the experience on the basis of the feedback obtained in the discussion and the enactments.
The psychodramatist has an important role that how to deal with resistances and reluctances by the protagonist. In dealing with them when the therapist attacked the natural resistances, the participants of the psychodrama will not go into the deeper expression and exploration of the conflict.  And if he does not respect the resistances of the participants, they will not develop trust in the therapist. So, the therapist should be careful in dealing with the resistances as according to the Moreno’ s advice cited by the Blatner (1996), “We don’t tear down the protagonist’s walls; rather, we simply try some of the handles on the many doors, and see which one opens”(p,78).( Corey, 2004, pp. 212).

Psychodrama involves following three stages,
  1. The warm-up stage.
  2. The action stage
  3. The sharing and discussion stage.
These stages are not absolute but are general intellectual constructs that help the practitioners in, (Corey, 2004, pp. 215)
  • Building the spontaneity.
  • Applying it.
  • Integrating the enactment with the group process.

1. The Warm-Up Stage:
This stage involves the initial activities needed for the gradual increase in the involvement and spontaneity. According to Blatner(1996,2001), “It involves the director’s warm up establishing trust and group cohesion, identifying a group theme, finding a protagonist and moving the protagonist onto the stage”.(Corey,2004, pp. 215).
It is important and helpful stage as it helps the participants to being motivated, to develop trust on each other and to get ready for the action stage. Usually physical techniques for warming up a group are being used which may include music, dancing and movement or other non verbal exercises.
Initially certain group participants are come forward who seems ready to benefit from a practical exploration of a problem. It can be an individual’s own relationship with the problem outside the group or some other group participants need to clarify their own interactions within the group. In these situations the flow of process of the group serves as a warm-up enactment.
In those situations in which the problem is primarily explore by the psychodrama, following warm-up methods are used including,
  • Firstly the psychodrama director gives the brief introduction of the drama including the nature and the purpose of the drama, and the participants are also invited to ask the questions regarding the drama.
  • After the introduction the director interviewed the each participant of the drama. According to Corey (2004), “A lead question may be, “Is there a present or past relationship that you’d like to understand better?”(Corey, 2004, pp. 215).
On the basis of the response of this question by each participant the cohesion of the group is being established.
  • The participants of the drama can make groups of two (dyads) and share their conflicts and which they are going to explore in the session.
  • After this the “go-around” technique is applied which can help to facilitate the interaction between the members of the group. During this technique each participant is asked to make some brief comments about whatever they are experiencing during the particular moment. This technique also helps the participants to focus on their personal work which they are going to do during the session.
  • In the long term group with functional people, a non directive warm-up is often used to get members prepare for the session. Members of the group may ask to make comments about their willingness for the session and what they know before coming to the session.
During this stage the members of the group need to be reassured that the working environment is safe for them and they are the one who will decide that what and when they will reveal during the session. They can stop revealing whenever they want to. The establishing trust is a useful tool during the initial phase of the psychodrama and helps in the development of the cohesion between the members of the group.
“Blatner (1996) emphasizes on the importance of the director’s own warm-up as the key factor in creating the climate that encourages spontaneous behavior.”(Corey, 2004, pp. 216).
Moreover he describes that by communicating sense of authenticity, modeling risk taking, self disclosure, humor, spontaneity, creativity, empathy and the acceptability by the director of the drama to the participants will develop trust and confidence among the participants, and cohesion between them. (Corey, 2004, pp. 216).

2. The Action Stage:
This stage include the enactment and working through the particular anticipated event, situation or conflict. It comprises of following phases.
  • Focusing Phase
The director should take care that the protagonist can focus on his or her particular issue, event or problem and move into the action as soon as possible. It is important to avoid the lengthy commentaries on the content and to loose the energy of the psychodrama. Moreover he can guide the protagonist in establishing the scene in which the significant event has took place. The director can give him or her cues that help him or her in presenting his or her situation during the scene including body postures, facial expressions and content of the speech. The director can ask him or her questions which help him or her to concentrate on the particular concern like with whom you are having most trouble? What did you do when you felt rejected or unloved? Etc.
When the protagonist develops the clear sense of the conflict, issue or situation which he or she really wants to explore, it will help in the creation of the scene and coaching of the auxiliary egos.
  • Acting Phase
After focusing on what he or she is going to act the protagonist act out his or her problem, conflict or an issueA single action phase may consist of one or several scenes. The scenes are constructed and acted out as related to the problem of the protagonist. According to Corey (2004) ‘they may be interpersonal or intrapersonal and usually move from the peripheral problem (presenting problem) to more central issues (the real or deeper problems).’(Corey, 2004, pp. 217). At the end of each scene the director or protagonist suppose a different role in the same particular scene to determine he or she can give response effectively or not. It is also suggested that the protagonist share his or her thoughts with the audience regarding the future that what will happen or how will be the things after this acting out. The duration of this phase varies depending on the director’s evaluation of the involvement of the protagonist and on the involvement of the group.
Sometimes the particular session may be as the whole about the interpersonal issues among the members of the group. Some other times there is common theme like loneliness, feelings of intimacy or rejection which seems to related to the each member of the group. The group leader or director helps in following the common theme of the drama and development of the link between the members of the group.
At the end of the action stage, the protagonist concludes the work which he has done throughout this stage. One useful way to facilitate the conclusion is to arrange it for behavioral practice. The behavioral practice is to experiment his work with new situations which will help him or her to implement these new behaviors to other situations and with significant others in his or her life. To facilitate the behavioral practice he or she presents the new situation as it is originally presented in the action phase. Various techniques including role reversal, mirroring and feed back are often used by the protagonist to make clear impact of his or her new behavior. (Corey, 2004, pp. 218).

3. The Sharing and Discussion Stage:
The last stage of the psychodrama is the sharing and discussion stage which involves the sharing of the experience of the participants of the group followed by discussion. The group leader or director has to make sure that all the participants are given equal chance to share their experience and then discuss it.
The sharing of the participants who have acted any role in the drama involves that to give nonjudgmental statements that how this enactment affected them personally and their reaction towards their role. The participants are asked to share their reactions to the protagonist as well in constructive and supportive way and how this enactment affected their lives which will help the protagonist to understand his or her impact on others.
  • The sharing phase
During the sharing phase the director involve each and every participant of the drama for sharing their experience regarding the session by initiating the discussion. The director needs to take care about the analyzing comments of the members of the group regarding the protagonist that they are not so harsh because a person (the protagonist) has just finished revealing his some intimate life experience or may be he is very vulnerable. It is important for the protagonist to be given him or her opportunity to conclude his experience because by this he or she will able to share his or her deep feelings and this will help in exploration of the meaning of the experience otherwise he or she will leave the session rejected and lost rather feeling free and more purposeful. The leader may help the protagonist in sharing of his experience by asking him or her open-ended questions like what are u experiencing now? Or what are your feelings regarding what you have done? Etc.
The sharing of the audience is also very crucial and the director should take care of this that it is to be personal and non judgmental. The sharing is best structured so that the members discuss how they were affected by the session and how it helps them in their personal growth. The director should take care of that they do not give advice and interpretations for the work of the protagonist and their focus is on their own experience that how the work of the protagonist affects them.
During the sharing time the cohesion between the members of the group usually increases because the members find commonalities among their experiences. Thus after the sharing phase the protagonist do not leave the session with unhealthy feelings rather he or she may have the feelings of acceptance and the feed back from others reinforce him or her to continue revealing his or her personal concerns, issues or conflicts.
  • The discussion phase
This phase is important for winding down the emotional content of the experience to more cognitive level which will help the protagonist as well as the audiences to integrate the important factors of the session. Although the emotional components are very important with therapeutic point of view but the integration of cognitive components with them will maximize the importance of emotional components. The protagonist can be asked to tell that what he or she has learned from his enactment and what insight he or she has acquired from it which will encourage him or her to talk about the personal meaning of reliving his or her experience or situation.
It has been emphasized that it is important to deal with the unfinished businesses at the end of the session. Before the end of the session, the director may ask the participants to speak out their unspoken feelings which they have developed during the session. It is important because some unfinished businesses are important to be fulfilled before the session is being closed and they may be helpful or fruitful if they are being explored and may help the protagonist in resolving his or her issue.
  • Closure or Conclusion
The closure or conclusion of experiences of the participants of the group during the session is very important at the end of the session especially when group will not meet again; however, if the group meets on regular basis the director may postpone it to the later sessions. The appropriate kind of the closure or conclusion depends on number of factors including,
Ø  The client.
Ø  The situation.
Ø  The group.
Ø  The length of the session.
Ø  The degree of the cohesion.
Ø  The intensity of the work.
The members of the group should not give premature conclusion to the session   and they are allowed fully to express their feelings and explore the meanings of their experience and suggest them the behavioral practice. The most challenging task for the director is bring appropriate closure or conclusion to the session without limiting the members to further self exploration.

The purpose of psychodrama techniques is “to intensify feelings, clarify confusions and implicit beliefs, increase insight and self awareness and practice new behaviors.” (Corey, 2004, P. 221) These techniques should be used with caution tailoring them according to the needs and potentials of the protagonist and audience. If a therapist is practicing classical psychodrama then the major focus areas are therapist’s adequate training, appropriate time for orientation and follow-up, a supportive group atmosphere and member’s who are appropriate for such methods. But for who do not practice classical psychodrama many of the psychodrama techniques can be part of the therapist’s eclectic orientation to the group. The therapists have freedom to invent his or her techniques or to modify standard psychodramatic ones. In order for this approach to be effective it is necessary on the part of the counselor to master not only techniques but also an awareness of when, where and how to apply techniques is also necessary. For this purpose there are principles of psychodramatic techniques that guide counselor to perform psychodrama effectively.

Principles of psychodramatic techniques:
Following are the guiding principles of psychodramatic techniques.
  • “Whenever possible use physical action rather then talking about situation.
  • Promote authentic encounters as much as possible. Group members should speak directly to each other rather than explaining to the director.
  • Look for ways to promote the active behavior of other members by getting them involved in an enactment as much as possible.
  • Make abstract situations more concrete by working with specific scenes.
  • Encourage participants to make affirmative statements about themselves by using sentences beginning with “I”.
  • Continue to encourage members to deal with situations in the past or future as if they were happening in the present moment.
  • Recognize and tap the potential for redecisions, renegotiations and corrective experiences in the present.
  • Pay attention to the nonverbal aspects of the communication.
  • Work towards increasing levels of self disclosure and honesty.
  • When appropriate, weave in a degree of playfulness, humor and spontaneity in a situation.
  • Utilize symbols and metaphors, personifying them and making them more vivid.
  • Include other artistic principles and vehicles such as movement, staging, lighting, props, poetry, art and music.
  • Exaggerate or amplify behavior to explore a wider range of responses.
  • Recognize and use the warming-up process as a prelude to facilitating creative and spontaneous behavior.
  • Utilize the therapeutic factors of a group.
  • Integrate psychodrama with other therapeutic approaches and the creative arts.” (Corey, 2004, P. 221-222).

Psychodrama is an approach that has high flexibility to integrate techniques from other approaches and also counselor has great freedom to tailor and modify or introduce new technique according to the situation. Due this flexibility this approach has hundreds of techniques and therefore it is not possible to list all of them here. However a number of specific techniques have been explained below.
Warming up techniques:
These techniques are used to induce spontaneous states.
1. Technique of spontaneous improvisation:
The protagonist is asked to act fictitious roles and to keep his personal character out of that role.
2. Mirror techniques behind your back:
This is also used to warm up. This helps individuals to see how others perceive them and how they act. It must be noted that in classical mirroring technique the protagonist is only physically present and the mirror presentation of the protagonist is continued till protagonist realizes that this his her or her real picture.
3. The magic shop:
Initially used as warm up technique it may be elaborated throughout the action phase. According to Leventen (2001) it must be timed appropriately and cannot be used repeated with same group. (Corey, 2004, P. 227)
The basic idea is that one of the auxiliary egos is a shopkeeper having a magic shop in which are various jars having personal qualities the protagonist may trade of any of the jars for any of his or her qualities. The aim is to help protagonist become clear about his or her wishes and desires and assigning priorities.
4. Creative imagery:
This is a warm up technique to make participants more spontaneous. The participants may be asked to imagine neutral or pleasant objects or scenes.
5. Behind your back audience technique:
This is often used as warming up technique. The group members are asked to leave the theatre symbolically and the protagonist tells each member how he or she feels about that member. No member is allowed to give any kind of response no matter how the protagonist provokes him or her. Ideally the audiences are asked to turn their backs. The advantage of this technique is to allow the audience to see how the protagonist perceives them in his or her world.
6. The turn your back technique:
The protagonist may turn his or her back to audience if he or she feels embarrassed to perform a particular act. The director may also turn the back to observe the protagonist. Once a higher degree of involvement is achieved the protagonist may turn back to face audience.
Other techniques:
  1. Self presentation:
Different authors have explained self presentation in different ways. Corey considered it as technique in which the protagonist gives a self portray of a situation in order to introduce it. (Corey, 2004, P. 222) For example Anwar is experiencing problem with his wife and he and the group wants to present it. He will come up on the stage and present the problem as he perceives and experiences it and another group member will be selected to present his wife and the both of them will concretely present that problem in order to experience it in appropriate present way.
But for Mullan and Rosenbaum (1978)  the protagonist either present himself, his mother, father, his professor or any body with whom he has problem and acts all these roles himself, “in complete subjectiveness as he experiences and perceive them.” (Mullan & Rosenbaum, 1978, P.368) In this case Anwar will present himself and also his wife on the stage.

  1. Monodrama (autodrama)
The technique explained by Mullan and Rosenbaum is given by Glading (1995, P. 393) as monodrama or autodrama. All the roles are performed by protagonist himself with out use of any auxiliary ego. For example a person has thoughts about his or her upcoming migration. That person will discuss his thoughts with different expressions to the chairs arranged in circular form. It is also core feature of Gestalt therapy.

  1. Self realization
In this technique (Mullan & Rosenbaum, 1978 P. 368) states that the protagonist will present some of his or her plan no matter how remote it is how different it is from the present situation of the protagonist. For example a student who is studying behavioral sciences but sometime in past planed to learn medicine and have taken preparatory classes for admission test or dropped out of school of medicine due to some financial reason. In this technique alternatives may be explored like success of this desired goal, possible failures, the return to old living, preparing for another one etc.

  1. Role reversal
Role reversal is exchange of role with the person the protagonist wants to understand or with whom the protagonist is experiencing problems. It is like wearing other person’s shoes, seeing from other person’s perspective or frame of reference how the protagonist appears to that person. The protagonist first present his or her own role so that the situation in made clear. The protagonist depicts his or her true cognition about how the other person appears to him or her no matter how distorted his or her perceptions may sound to group or/ and director. After this roles are reversed. If the person with whom protagonist has issue is participating then role is reversed with that person but if the person is not present than role can be reversed with any of the auxiliary ego. The role reversal with auxiliary ego has chances of contamination of the auxiliary ego’s own perception. This is controlled by director by interrupting when such thing occurs and the protagonist whose role is reversed with auxiliary ego is asked again to perform his own role in order for the auxiliary to understand the role of protagonist better to perform it.
The purpose of role reversal is to “1) to better portray how he or she imagines or understands the other person 2) to reach a fuller understanding of the viewpoint or situation of the other.” (Corey, 2004, P. 222) This is done by scientific and emotional insight of the other’s role that ultimately helps building empathy. It allows members to “fully express their perception of reality, to get feed back from others in the group about their subjective views and to make modifications of their perceptions to the extent that they discover distortions.” (Corey, 2004, P. 223)
For Moreno himself role reversal encourages the maximum expression of the conflict and for Corey role reversal is “another core part of psychodrama and one of the most important action techniques.” (Corey, 2004, P. 223)

  1. Double and multiple double
It is one of the most powerful tools in psychodrama and must be used cautiously. It involves an auxiliary ego pretending to be alter ego of the protagonist. The double acts and feels in the way protagonist do. And the double will help the protagonist to express his or her inner feelings by pretending to be the inner self of the protagonist.
If the protagonist is ambivalent then multiple doubles can be used to represent various aspects of the protagonist’s personality. Multiple doubles can either speak together or can speak after another. The basic aim is to give protagonist a clear idea of his or her feelings and thoughts.
Mullan and Rosenbaum  explained multiple doubles as various auxiliary egos presenting various parts of life of the protagonist e.g., when protagonist was  five years old, ten years old, when mother died, how he may be at twenty years  and so on. This act is done in sequence one following other. (Mullan & Rosenbaum, 1978 P. 369)

For employing the double protagonist’s will is very important. If protagonist is not comfortable with his or her double some other auxiliary ego can become alter ego of the protagonist. When the protagonist is comfortable with double the double can also do the confrontation.
The double will verbalize non verbal communication, questioning oneself, interpreting statement for what is being said and not said, contradicting feelings self observing and denial. This will help the protagonist to get awareness of his or her own feeling as it enhances the amplification of the own statements of the protagonist. It involves exploring the preconscious of the protagonist not unconscious

  1. Soliloquy:
The protagonist is asked to imagine him/herself in a place where he/she can think aloud. The protagonist may also be asked to walk around the stage and soliloquize or he or she may be asked to imagine being solitary such as walking home alone and thinking aloud. This can be done when the director feels that protagonist needs to be aware of what he or she is feeling and thinking or when the director feels ambivalence in protagonist.
A variation has been adopted in this technique in which the protagonist may be asked to have a solitary dialogue with the double.
It has advantage similar to double technique it facilitates an open expression of thinking and feeling but not verbally expressing. For example a person is depressed about the extra work load he or she had been assigned and wants to express his aggressive feelings to his or her boss. This technique will help such a person to do it in a non threatening environment.

  1. Therapeutic soliloquy:
 This is portrayal of side dialogues and side hidden thoughts and feelings that go parallel with overt thoughts and actions. In a situation if a person has a conflict with authority figure he or she might be asked to act the situation and will be stopped from time to time to think and feel aloud about that moment and situation.

  1. The empty chair:
This technique was originated by Moreno and later refined by Fritz Perlz. It may be particularly useful for a situation when one of the concerned people is absent or dead. The protagonist might be asked to imagine that in the empty chair that other person is present and the therapist remains with the protagonist for support or another group member with similar problem may be present near by.
An extension of this technique is role reversal. This kind a role reversal allows the protagonist to verbalize what he or she wanted to hear from the person being imagined in empty chair.

  1. Replay:
In replay the protagonist can redo an act in order to be more expressive, “to accentuate the sense of awareness in the action, to intensify the sense of ownership and responsibility to broaden the role or repertoire.” (Corey, 2004, P. 225)
This fundamental technique has been modified and used in other therapies also such as Gestalt and behavioral therapy.

  1. Mirror technique:
This is done with the help of auxiliary ego who acts like protagonist when the protagonist is unable to present his or her feelings while the protagonist remains seated in the psychodrama group. This is done on action place of stage and it is done with the view that how others may view the protagonist. The technique of deliberate distortion can be used in order to arouse the protagonist to come forward and act the actual feelings. The aim is of mirroring the protagonist.

  1. Future projection:
For Zerka Moreno future is that aspect in therapy which is usually ignored. The technique is designed to make client act in some point in future as here and now. It allows clarification of understanding about goals and desires. It also allows protagonist to anticipate the worst outcome and helps to increase awareness of available options.

  1. Role training:
Role training originally designed by Moreno in 1930s is now used as behavioral rehearsals in behavioral therapy widely. The protagonist has opportunity to learn a role and replaying it again and again until it becomes suitable to situation and him/her. The protagonist may be taught for role modeling by any of the auxiliary egos. The director may also direct about it. This is done to expand role repertoire of protagonist. It allows to experiment with new behaviors. For example in job interview a protagonist and show appropriate behavior.

  1. Sculpting:
This the technique which allows the protagonist to see the relationships and perception of others in a more dynamic way through the arrangement or positioning of auxiliary egos in form of significant others such as family, peers etc. This also allows the protagonist and other group members to see how protagonist view his or her significant others.

  1. Auxiliary world technique:
The entire world of the protagonist is arranged around by auxiliary egos. It is very similar to sculpting.

  1. Hallucinatory psychodrama:
The protagonist enacts the hallucinations and delusions he or she is experiencing. The protagonist is not directed by the director here but he/she acts out all the voices and visions as if they are real. He or she is helped by the auxiliary egos to bring that situation to reality. For example a protagonist hearing voices from chair on which he or she sits may make those voices him/herself.

  1. Dream presentation:
In dream presentation the protagonist is not asked to tell the dream but is asked to lie down and pretend as he or she usually sleeps. He/she is relaxed and is asked to visualize that dream without telling the director what he or she is seeing. He/she is instructed to see the dream from the beginning, middle and end. He/she is instructed to tell each and everything about the place where he/ she sleeps including the color of walls, setting of room, lighting arrangement of room, dressing etc. then the director asks what the protagonist is seeing. The protagonist will be instructed to act what he or she is doing in the dream and is then asked to tell about details of the dream and his or her feelings and in what condition he or she woke up.
Retention of dream: later the dreamer is asked if he/she wants to change the dream because it is he/ she who is dreaming and hence is in control of the dream. If the dreamer refuses to have that dream at all, dreamer can be asked to what dream in stead he/she would like to have. Then that dream is acted on the stage with the help of the auxiliary egos.
It is a unique contribution of the psychodrama to dream therapy as it not only allows interpretation of the dream in the form of act but also allows training the dreamer.

  1. Therapeutic community:
This is the technique in which the conflicts and disputes between the individuals are resolved under the rule of the therapy not under the rules of the law. Each and every person in the group is responsible for the welfare of the other and has equal status including patients and staff.

  1. Symbolic realization:
This is enactment of the symbolic processes by the protagonist using techniques like double, reversal, mirroring etc.

  1. Analytic psychodrama:
Some psychoanalytic hypothesis for example Electra complex is tested out on the stage to ensure its validity. The analyst sits in the audience and the analyses is made immediately after the act

  1. Treatment at a distance:
The patient is treated in absentia usually without his/her knowledge and is replaced by an auxiliary ego who has daily contact with him and who acts as intermediary between the protagonist and the director. Those life situations are performed that occurred in the presence of the protagonist. Other members of the immediate environment of the protagonist are drawn into act also.

21. The black-out technique:
The entire theatre may be blacked out and the act will continue as if it is going on in daylight. The purpose is to allow the protagonist to go through a painful experience unobserved.
A number of fantasy techniques are used in psychodrama whose roots can be traced back to ancient cultures and the psychiatric patients. Such as magic shop which serves as useful tool for diagnosis also as it allows seeing what the patient can give up for the exchange and what he/she cannot.
Another technique is of dramatization of fairy tales. The act is kept flexible so that protagonist can make his own entry. Same basic principle is applicable of early childhood experiences. The protagonist can go far ahead from what actually happened while performing any childhood experience.

The following are the major outcomes of psychodrama:
  1. It helps creation of the catharsis, insight and emotional resolution.
  2. It develops theatrical cathedral for the release of natural spontaneity and creativity that exists naturally in everyone.
  3. Individuals can experience and work through past, present and future events that have caused them distress.
  4. After acting out their difficulties they gain emotional and cognitive insight which brings stage of renewed self awareness and readjustment, integration, acceptance, control and prevention.
  5. Learning through spill over effect is possible. Spillover effect is the learning of other group members through protagonist’s acting out of issues. Watching the protagonist helps them to gain insight by relating to the act and learning to behave in a better way in future in that situation.

This method has number of applications to variety of fields. Its different forms can be used in family therapy, addiction treatment, training of theologians and sensitizing of leaders. However, here only its application in two fields will be elaborated briefly.

1. Application to educational settings and with children:
It’s techniques can be applied with school children. Techniques such as role playing have been found especially useful. According to Blatner (1995) role playing serves primary role in helping children to acquire necessary psychosocial skills required for adaptation in contemporary world. Because of it’s this significance it is applied from elementary levels to graduate programs. (Corey, 2004, P. 228) Role reversal allows a young person to understand the world of others.
Other methods can also be used with children. Application of psychodrama not only allows learning of the protagonist but also of other group members as they can also relate to the protagonist’s situation. It offers young people to understand that their problems are shared by other people also.
For school children usually methods are time limited and revolve around a theme.  In addition to that puppets can also be used with young children as they allow cathartic release and feelings of self confidence and self efficacy can emerge from successful rehearsals of future challenges.
Future projection can be used with children to help them clarify their futures goals and clarify their concern about future.
The magic shop helps them to identify their core values and the relationship of core values to their behavior.

2. Application to multicultural population:
By keeping in view all the precaution of applying techniques from this method it can be applied to people coming from diverse background having different ethnic and cultural upbringings. Especially when people having English as second language are asked to speak in their native language while acting, their original intense emotions come to surface easily and they relive their experience. While the director and other group members do not necessarily need to understand the language but what the protagonist is experiencing through the emotional expression and tone of voice. After the act the protagonist can be asked to summarize in few words what he or she was saying in his or her native language.
It is possible to combine both didactic and experiential methods in multicultural groups when the group members are comfortable in displaying their original emotions.
Those members who have cultural restrictions to talk about their family private issues openly will be reluctant. In this case the director should be aware of the cultural background of the client and must be highly trained to handle the situation carefully.

Situations where psychodrama should not be applied:
Complex psychodramas should not be used with the following types of problems
  1. Acute psychosis
  2. High anxiety
  3. Early withdrawal from alcohol or drugs
  4. Individuals with limited cognitive capacity
  5. And other severe problems.

Psychodrama is a very powerful tool as way of working with other but is has its own limitations.
Advantages of psychodrama:
  1. One of the advantage is that is can be used very effectively in number of different environments like psychotherapeutic, psychoeducational and business settings. Its different forms can be used in family therapy, addiction treatment, training of theologians and sensitizing of leaders.
  2. The second advantage of psychodrama is its teaching potential. Group members can learn through their active participation and through the spill over effect.
  3. Various professionals can learn how they interact and resolve matters with difficult clients.
  4. It fosters creativity and spontaneity in leaders and members as it allows breaking the inability to resolve problems. It allows to practice out different solution to the problem in safe environment hence making the client more confident and less resistant to take action.
  5. Another advantage of psychodrama is its integrative and vicarious effect. It emphasizes emotional release through action with byproduct of cognitive changes. Through discussions about the learning from the act this three fold change does not occur just in the protagonist but also in the other group members.
  6. Potential for integration with approaches: psychodrama has a high potential for integration with other approaches as it provides techniques that are flexible enough to be integrated with other approaches with different theoretical backgrounds. There is growing trend in psychodrama to move towards technical eclecticism: which allows and challenges the therapist to apply and find suitable techniques according to the needs of the client in group and individual therapy.
  7. The final advantage comes in the form of the input and feed back that group members give to each other. This results in promotion of interaction among group members.
Disadvantages of psychodrama:
There are number of disadvantages of psychodrama which are listed below:
  1. Danger of over exposing of the protagonist to himself or herself or the audience exits. To prevent this high level of expertise is required to decide the timing and amount of exposure.
  2. The training of the director or group leader require a lot of time. Also many years of experience is required to be a director. Not only training and experience is required development of personal qualities of the director are required like high intuition and charisma etc.
  3. Due to this extreme dependence of the psychodrama on director it is also difficult to achieve uniformity in various psychodrama groups. Since 1975 American Board of examiners in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy is trying to ensure uniformity in various psychodrama groups. (Glading, 1995, P. 396)
  4. First attempts at resolving a problem are not as polished as later ones and sometime everyone involved in the process struggles.
  5. Another criticism on this approach is that it lacks substantial amount of research. For example in role playing technique it is hypothesized that through role play client’s mind set becomes more spontaneous. It  has never been empirically investigated.
  6. It may focus too much on expression of feelings than change of behavior as there is lot of emphasizes on expression and present experience as opposed to cognition and exploration of the past. Therefore careful construction of the group is required to avoid this.
  7. There also exists the potential problem of confidentiality especially in small cities. Such problems must be dealt openly.
  8. Another related problem is of secret alliance between the clients that are needed to be brought to light and dealt tact fully.

Training in psychodrama not only allow for overcoming limitations but it also help to integrate techniques from psychodrama into other approaches.
At least two years of extensive training is required to become a director. The student getting training in psychodrama must be aware of and has experienced each and every role in order to understand the group dynamics fully.
The student must realize they do not have to be perfect in the application of their methods at first and it not a simple procedure of combining various techniques it requires a complete understanding of the process to integrate various elements and to tailor method according to the needs of the group members. Hence it requires many years of supervision by a trained director to become an expert in psychodrama.
This training is not only related to professional life of the director but also to how fully the director lives in his or her social world. Hence more involved the director is in social world around him or her better he or she is the director.

It must be understood that psychodrama is an approach undergoing evolution since it came into being and has faced many ups and downs. With all its advantages and disadvantages this approach has been successful in many settings. This approach also allowed groups to act in more functional and uniquely suitable ways.


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