We do not always stop to think about the power that a good story can have. A good book, movie, or television show can connect us to characters, bring us to tears, scare and disgust us, have us on the edge of our seats, and so much more. We can even find ourselves identifying with characters very different from ourselves and learning from their struggles and victories. Stories are more powerful than we often realize.
This is also true for our own stories. In cases where there is a lot of pain, we often avoid re-living or thinking through the past. Where the memory is painful, we seek to avoid having to face it again. However, this does not mean the memory is not still affecting us. Often, we have avoided confronting and dealing with or subtly affecting the way we think and act today. As long as these things are not dealt with, they lurk out of sight, waiting to return with renewed ferocity when we least expect it.
In cases of addiction, substances have often become a way of not dealing with something in the past. Whether it is a traumatic incident, bad relationships, poor decisions, or negative experiences, we try to run away and forget. Unfortunately, this does not solve problems.
Psychodrama therapy seeks to help address issues within our past by helping us to act them out in a safe environment. Psychodrama therapy is conducted by a trained therapist and usually in a group setting. The session will begin with warm-up lessons so that the participants can begin loosening up and getting comfortable. Then one participant will be the main character who goes through a scenario regarding issues the group is dealing with; the others in the group will play other roles in the story or watch. Through acting out the scene and watching the scene acted out by others, the participants get a chance to work through different feelings and issues. There are opportunities to talk through things in detail after the scene is completed.[i]
Techniques Involved in Psychodrama Therapy
Psychodrama Therapy often employs various methods to get results. Some of the most common include the following:
- Soliloquy: a term borrowed from the classical theatre that has to do with “thinking out loud”; usually involves an outward processing or verbal thinking-through of what one is feeling or thinking at the moment
- Double: a practice in which one individual plays themselves and another interprets the first individual, but adding the underlying emotions, fears, or motives they think the first individual is not explicit about
- Mirror: one individual imitates another in front of them to help the first individual see themselves more accurately
- Role reversal: a technique in which two individuals swap their normal roles so they can practice putting themselves in another’s shoes and seeing how others see them
- Resistance interpolation: a practice in which the therapist introduces unexpected changes into the story being acted out, forcing the main character to respond spontaneously
- Games: “fun” activities designed to increase the bond between members and create a relaxed setting[ii]
A Story About a Dragon
There is a children’s book called There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon, in which a young boy named Billy Bixbee finds a small dragon in his bedroom. Upon telling his mom about this dragon, she responds, “There’s no such thing as a dragon!” Taking her word to be true, Billy begins to ignore the dragon. As he starts ignoring the dragon, however, it begins to get larger and larger, eating all of his food, and getting in the way of everything in the house. Eventually, the dragon gets so large that it is bigger than the house, and it gets up and runs off with the house around it. That afternoon, Billy’s father arrives to find that his house has disappeared. Down the street, Billy and his mother are in the house and Billy’s mother finally says that maybe there is such a thing as dragons. Billy then pets the dragon on the head, and it immediately begins to get smaller and smaller until it is a tiny dragon again.
For a lot of us, there are dragons in our houses. The instinct often ignores a dragon and pretending it does not exist because it would be difficult to acknowledge the dragon’s reality in your home. But this causes the dragon to get larger and larger until eventually it runs away and takes your home and security along with it.
Psychodrama therapy can be thought of as a way of acknowledging the dragon in your home. In psychodrama therapy, we turn to the dragon, acknowledge its existence, and start having to deal with the fact that it is real. We do this by experiencing the story, much like we have experience the story of There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon. By addressing our issues through these stories, we have opportunities to deal with problems instead of continuing to run away. And when we turn and deal with them, we will often find that the problem becomes more manageable because we faced it. It may not solve every problem or take away all the pain, but by facing the dragon, we may be able to get it down to a smaller size so that it cannot run away with our home.
Addiction is a serious and complicated issue. Difficulties with the possibility of overdose, withdrawal, or co-occurring mental disorders serve only to compound the difficult nature of substance abuse. The last thing that any of us wants is to miss an opportunity to get the needed help.
Cycles of Change Recovery is convinced of the usefulness of psychodrama therapy as a tool for recovery. In preparing treatment, we have taken the time to prepare individualized and progressive plans for each patient. Our priority is to help the patient on the path of recovery.
Because of the dangers involved in addiction and substance abuse, it is of great importance that helps in the form of treatment is sought out as soon as possible. At Cycles of Change Recovery, we want to come alongside those struggling with cocaine addiction and withdrawal symptoms to help transition into recovery. We can offer 24/7 on-site medical help and supervision, counseling, and consistent care to facilitate the process of healing. Please review our various programs[iii] to see what meets the situation or need. It is also recommended to review our accreditation,[iv] staff,[v] and facility,[vi] so that you can be confident Cycles of Change Recovery is the right path for you or your loved one.
- [i] Toni Hoy, “What is Psychodrama Therapy And What Does It Help With?” Regain, https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/what-is-psychodrama-therapy-and-what-does-it-help-with/, Accessed 3/14/21.
- [ii] Cruz, Ana et al. “The Core Techniques of Morenian Psychodrama: A Systematic Review of Literature.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 9 1263. 24 Jul. 2018, doi:10.3389/fps.2018.01263
- [iii] https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/programs/.
- [iv] https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/about/accreditation/.
- [v] https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/about/staff/.
- [vi] https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/about/palmdale/.