Psychodrama strives to make the implicit explicit
When we move, we know ourselves differently. We override our desire to intellectualize and rationalize, and instead step into our deeper knowing. Through body movement, we tap into implicit memory networks, which are the memories held by our body rather than our mind. These memories communicate via symptoms (anxiety, resentment in relationships, defense mechanisms, etc) rather than words. Drama enactment allows these memories to tell their story and seek resolution without the pollution of analysis or intellectualization.
The key to psychodrama is the connecting to and welcoming of spontaneity. As we mature into well-mannered adults, our external environment rewards us for being disciplined and keeping contained the spontaneity that came so freely to us as children. Consistent overriding of our natural ability to be spontaneous (which is connected to our instincts of self-protection and fight, flight, freeze), can lead to repression of our innate healing forces. In this repression is where behavioral and mood symptoms become evident. The restoration of body wisdom is one of the most powerful components of psychodrama.
What does healing with psychodrama look like?
Psychodrama can be facilitated in an individual setting, in couples or family work, and within group therapy. It can be utilized virtually or in person. There are three phases to a full psychodrama: warm up, drama re-enactment, and cool down. During the warm up, participants engage in activities that connect them with their bodies and begin to silent the mind. In family and group sessions, the warm up also focuses on building cohesion among participants and a sense of safety in the setting. As participants warm up, potential themes for drama re-enactment arise.
Once participants are warmed up, the therapist will support the group in identifying the protagonist, or the person whose drama will be re-enacted. This choice is based off of who appears most available to the role, as well as whose drama will be relevant to the majority of the remaining participants. These individuals will either become members of the auxiliary (supporting players who are chosen by the protagonist to depict either a person, idea, emotion, or other important aspect of the drama), or the audience (the witnesses who provide a safe containment for the protagonist).
Drama re-enactment can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on the goal of the work. During enactment, the therapist may have the protagonist "reverse roles" with various auxiliaries to deepen his/her place of knowing and seeing through the eyes of the unconscious world. This is also a beneficial process for the auxiliary playing certain roles as they connect to dormant parts of themselves. The therapist may also "double" for the protagonist, offering a first person narrative for the unspeakable. This technique mimics the early developmental relationships between child and caregiver when caregiver attunes to the child and offers the words that they are unable to yet speak. Once the conflict within the drama has been resolved, a "cool down" process follows the enactment. This is a strategic process of finding personal closure and reconnecting with the mind. In the days, and sometimes weeks, following a psychodrama, the brain will continue to process and integrate the work that was completed. See "Retreats" tab for upcoming opportunities for psychodramatic healing.