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Psychodrama Therapy for Addiction Recovery

When you seek treatment for addiction, your rehabilitation program may include a number of different therapies. Most people are familiar with the concepts of counseling, group therapy and 12-step programs, but you may not have heard of psychodrama.

What is Psychodrama?

Psychodrama is an action-based group therapy designed to allow for post traumatic growth in individuals suffering from addiction. This type of therapy, designed by leading social scientist Dr. Jacob Moreno, involves elements of theater and improvisation to help you gain insights into your thought processes, emotions and behaviors.

In the residential and outpatient setting, it gives an enhanced opportunity for peers to form bonds, discover and challenge intrapersonal discord, reconstruct and improve deficiencies of self-worth and begin the ability to accept and offer support to others whom are dealing with similar issues. This treatment modality is based on spontaneity and gives individuals the opportunity to affect change in their lives, which is vital to establishing recovery behaviors, thoughts and emotions.

How Does Psychodrama Therapy Work?

Psychodrama therapy involves a group working together, but the focus is on a single participant often referred to as the protagonist. Typically lasting 1-2 hours, the session will focus on one or more real-life events or memories from the protagonist’s life. Utilizing a stage or stage-like setting (and sometimes including props), the participants will act out these memories in a few different ways to explore the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that took place. While the therapy focuses on one individual, other members of the group can also benefit by comparing these scenarios to their own life experiences.

A Typical Psychodrama Therapy Session

A psychodrama session is led by a licensed psychodramatist—often called the director. The director guides the group through three phases:

  • Warm-up. Group trust, safety and an environment safe for sharing are important. With a series of icebreaker-style games and activities, your group is prepared to be present in the moment and is encouraged to be creative.
  • Action. At this stage, you will focus on the specific event(s) from the protagonist’s life. Utilizing a number of techniques, the conscious and subconscious components of these memories are reenacted.
  • Sharing. The group discusses and evaluates the action phase. The discussion should be free of judgment. Members are encouraged to be empathetic toward the protagonist, and they may share similar personal experiences.

Traditional Psychotherapy Drama Techniques

The director will help you employ different techniques during your session. These may include:

  • Doubling. One actor is responsible for expressing feelings or stating thoughts that another person might be having. The person being “doubled” can reject or correct these interpretations. The idea is to uncover subconscious factors that might be influencing your behavior.
  • Mirroring. The protagonist participates in a scene. Then, she is replaced by another actor who will go through the same scene.
  • Role playing. An actor assumes the role of someone or something that troubles the protagonist.
  • Role reversal. The protagonist takes on a secondary role while another actor takes her place. This arrangement gives the protagonist a chance to inhabit someone else’s thoughts and feelings while observing and interacting with herself.
  • Soliloquy. The inner thoughts of the protagonist are spoken aloud to the group.

Benefits of Psychodrama Therapy at Cycles of Change

Addiction is complicated. The compassionate professionals at Cycles of Change understand this, and that’s why we provide a variety of therapies targeted to your unique needs. Psychodrama therapy can help you improve communication and relationship skills, deal with emotional trauma and learn new life skills like healthier coping mechanisms. Many of our clients find this form of therapy to be beneficial even beyond residential treatment.

When you or a loved one is ready to break free from the destructive cycle of addiction, we are here to help—from detox to residential treatment and even extended care if needed. Contact us today for a private conversation about how you can begin to recover.


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