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In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Tamie White
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CP6634, Troy University

Professor Capes

December 3, 2009


Psychodrama therapy of Dr. Jacob L. Moreno is very effective in treating certain disorders such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, trauma survivors, and it has been used in marital counseling. In psychodrama a person is helped to gain insights through role playing. This helps the person to gain a better understanding of their problems and turn them into more realistic and meaningful thoughts. Psychodrama can be very effective when used correctly and it continues to offer therapists new ways to treat patients.


Psychotherapy is a technique used to change a person’s behavior, thought process, assumptions, and even sometimes their personality. Therapy is a term often used to encompass all acts of psychotherapy under one common theme, to help the client. Therapy today consists of many different types and themes. Some such as Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck suggested that our cognitive processes are responsible for our behavior, thoughts, and emotions and this developed into the cognitive model (Comer, 2004). Others such as Carl Rogers believed in a more client-centered approach that is “non-directive and based in insights gained from conscious thoughts and feelings” (Coon, 2000). Well known therapies include Freudian psychoanalysis and Gestalt therapy which is most associated with Fritz Perls. The list goes one but it is clear to see there are several methods and means to therapy today. Of these we have seen the therapies involving one client and one therapist, also known as individual therapy.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a therapy session that includes several clients participating at the same time. It can have one or more group leaders, which most times involve a therapist. Many self help groups are not lead by professionals but instead consist of like members of the group with more experience with the topic. An example of this is Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) which is a 12 Step self help group for people struggling with alcohol addiction. It is lead by senior members of the group who are also recovering alcoholics. Many therapies can be practiced in a group setting. The advantages of a group include support and insight that can be shared amongst the group, a feeling of comradely with fellow group members and even a bonding. There are almost as many group therapies as there are individual therapies. As mentioned before many individual therapies can be used in a group setting but some forms of group therapy are made specifically for a group setting. Examples include:

• Encounter Groups • Psychoeducational groups • Counseling groups • Self help and support groups • Family therapy • psychodrama

Psychodrama Psychodrama was created by Dr. Jacob L. Moreno in the early 20th Century out of his love for theater and his education in psychiatry and sociology. Psychodrama is a psychotherapy that uses role playing to help a person deal with a situation or person that they are having problems with. Many times a person is unaware of how they behave or act around a person and the acting out in psychotherapy can help a person to see their true self and work through many of their issues. Psychodrama’s ultimate goal is catharsis, the purging of emotion and the bringing of new insight. Psychodrama does this by providing a working stage for a person’s problems and then the acting out and processing of the event. It is interesting to note that the lead actor in a psychodrama is not the only one to have catharsis after an enactment. Many times the audience and other active members of the group will have insight into their own situations and problems and they are better able to understand and see it through the acting they are witnessing. Although watching a movie with similar circumstances could also bring some insight to a person it is the group involvement during the sharing and discussion phase that normally helps a person to really work out the issue. Seeing something from another point of view and then working out the possible outcomes has a great impact on how it is processed and handled by the person. Psychodrama involves psychotherapy but at a group level so it is capable of reaching many people.

Many key terms are involved in psychodrama including: • catharsis • empathy • insight • psychotherapy • transference • simulation • spontaneity • rapport • self-expression • drama • group • stage • Here and Now • Action • Transference

Jacob L. Moreno Dr. Moreno believed that the theater and role playing was an avenue into the true self. He loved the theater and it became the laboratory for his ideas. By watching children play in a park in Vienna he developed the idea of a role playing/drama technique for helping people to overcome their suppressed feeling and have an avenue to explore their hidden self. One of these ideas was the group therapy psychodrama. Psychodrama was originally developed in Vienna but was brought to the America around 1932 when Dr. Moreno introduced the concept of group psychotherapy to the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Moreno is the founder of a number of psychological disciplines including group psychology, psychodrama, and sociometry. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and medicine at the University of Vienna and graduated in 1917 with a Doctor in Medicine. Although Dr. Moreno had come to reject Freudian theory, he felt that he was continuing Sigmund Freud’s work with his theory of interpersonal relations which he first wrote about in 1937. Dr. Moreno had the opportunity to meet Sigmund Freud at a lecture in 1912. In his autobiography he recalls his encounter with Freud as he was singled out of the crowd and asked what he was doing.

“I responded, Well, Dr. Freud, I start where you leave off. You meet people in the artificial setting of your office. I meet them on the street and in their homes, in their natural surroundings. You analyze their dreams. I give them the courage to dream again. You analyze and tear them apart. I let them act out their conflicting roles and help them to put the parts back together again.” (Moreno, 1985 p.12)

Dr. Moreno moved to the United States in 1925 where he chose New York as his new home. He chose New York because he felt it was the best “stage” to develop his group psychotherapy in. He left behind his wife of many years and later married Zerka Toeman Moreno who continues his work today. Mrs. Moreno traveled all over with her husband from the 1940’s to the 1970’s to help him share his therapy approach and to promulgate it. Dr. Moreno formed the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP) in 1942. This was the first group to involve group psychotherapy in an organization. He has published several articles, books, and professional publications that have helped psychodrama and his many other disciplines continue for almost a century. Dr. Moreno practiced psychiatry and directed The Psychodrama Institute in New York from 1924 until he died in 1978.

Types of Psychodrama

Sociodrama: Similar to psychodrama but it is socially based. The group will act out a social situation. It is used training, organizations, and community education. “A trained “auxiliary,” or someone who can role play easily, often aids teaching a sociodrama class” (Blatner, 2006 p. 3).

Individual Psychodrama: Although created originally for groups, psychodrama has developed into an individual therapy also. Psychodrama “a deux” is the name often used for the therapy between the therapist and the client. It has also been called “bi-personal” psychodrama. The empty chair, doubling and mirroring is often used for this form of therapy. Individual therapy in psychodrama is sometimes needed for a client to “grow” enough to accept interactions within a group enough to handle group therapy.

Spontaneous Psychodrama: This is the most used form of psychodrama. No rehearsals or prior insight is given into the session and it is done spontaneously and without forethought.

Planned Psychodrama: Usually involves the planning of a certain element or problem in a future psychodrama session. This usually includes a certain person being picked before hand as the protagonist for the enactment also.

Rehearsed Psychodrama: Normally a particular situation is worked out and details and a written dialogue is handed out to the participants making it more rehearsed than spontaneous.

Key Concepts in Psychodrama Many terms are associated with psychodrama.

Creativity: The development of something that can be done together through a corporative goal.

Encounter: This can mean the group experiencing the enactment as a whole or the process of the set-up of the experience. Since group members are put in a positive friendly environment for the enactment it can mean the different actions and insight gained that is the result of the intensive group process.

Spontaneity: Moreno felt the best way to create was to be spontaneous. By letting things happen people can develop impulses and respond with more energy and true self.

Working in the present moment: This is the “here and now” theory. As with Gestalt therapy all work done in the course of psychodrama is done in the “here and now’, the present time. Past events can be explored as they are remembered today and future events can be assumes as they are imagined today. All action is currently present now and it does not involve traveling through time. A member can experience a childhood trauma not only as an adult with more capable mind and body but also with the support of the group who is here with them. “Being present in the moment and working in the here and now are central to the psychodrama method” (Dayton, 2005 p.1).

Tele: Tele involves a transference and empathy between the lead actor and the audience. It is the energy transferred from the dramatics of the enactment between the protagonist and the supporting roles and audience. With an increase in tele from the audience the lead actor will put more energy into the performance and thus all other members of the group will feel more about the enactment. It is from the Greek word meaning at a distance.

Surplus reality: Moreno felt that “if” had great power in a person and even more so in a group. He felt if a child could use imagination for play and growth than an adult could use it to explore inner turmoil’s. This was why he felt the drama aspect of the psychotherapy was important so that people could explore the “ifs”. This is the ability for the protagonist to have a conversation with someone about something they never could before or allows for someone to say goodbye to someone already gone. Although the person is not there the “if” you could is used and the ability to do something is present in the surplus reality. This is not limited to physical beings but also to feeling and emotions that cannot be expressed elsewhere.

Catharsis: Catharsis is the flooding of feelings and the purging of emotion. Catharsis is an important element in any type of psychotherapy but the extreme level that can be achieved in psychodrama makes this therapy very dangerous and possibly harmful if it is not directed properly. People unable to handle the group experience can often times be counseled on a one-to-one basis until they are stable enough to function as an active member of the group without feel of them losing control because they were not prepared or ready for what they experienced in the enactment.

Insight: This is the goal of the psychodrama. By having a spontaneous, creative acting out of problems, insight can be gained about the situation and involving feelings. With insight comes catharsis and healing.

Reality testing: Borrowed from Freud this is the reality check to the protagonist about the situation they are enacting. Things are acted out and not just talked about in psychodrama so the protagonist will have the rest of the group to help detour perceptions to be more real and in the present reality.

Role theory: Moreno’s role theory involves the potential of role play to help people gain insight and the transformational change. He believed that the roles could be played out allowing for self-reflection and insight and also in a distance to observer and to modify the roles as needed.

Role playing: The technique developed by Moreno as psychodrama and used for people to act out their problems and gain insight into them.

Basic Components of Psychodrama No matter what type of psychodrama is used, there will be one or more of these components in every enactment. Most important is the protagonist as it is the person with whom the enactment is normally focused on.

Protagonist: The lead actor- The person selected to be the focus of the enactment and the person whose problem the group will focus on. Auxiliary egos: Other members of the group who assume the part of an important other in the drama. Double: A supplemental role that assists the protagonist by sharing their viewpoint with them or saying things they feel the protagonist is withholding. They stand behind or beside the protagonist and shadow them. Audience: Involves group members who witness and later participate in the enactment and represent the rest of the world. Stage: The physical space that the psychodrama will occur. This is the space that the group can feel free to express themselves and confront things they have difficulty doing and feeling in real life. Director: The trained psychodramatist who conducts and guides the enactment. Props: Props and items that help with the enactment to make it seem more real. Psychodrama can be done with or without the use of probs.

Phases of Psychodrama
“Every session proceeds in a set course, consisting of three parts (stages)—a warm-up, the enactment (action portion), and the sharing (closure) and processing” Kipper and Hundal, 2003 p.142) . The warm-up, action, and sharing and discussion phase. Although traditionally three steps are involved in psychotherapy as developed by Dr. Moreno, the extent to which the steps are taken and applied is limitless. It is also noticeable that many different institutes and schools of psychotherapy teach the same basic phases but they have changed the names to incorporate more they the meaning that they apply to the phase.

Warm-Up: Involves creating cohesion in the group. It involves making the group focus on who is going to be the protagonist and developing a theme. It involves spontaneity to prepare the group for action. Action: Dramatization of the theme problem and working through of a situation to bring it into the “Here and Now”. This is where the protagonist will explore new ways of dealing with their issues. Sharing: Group members share their aspects of their lives that have been “awakened” during the enactment and possible solutions they have formed from the enactment are explored. Processing: Discussion continues after personal sharing to process the activities to discuss the insights gained from the enactment.

Methods used in Psychodrama

Doubling: A supportive role that is played by a group member or the director. This person assists the protagonist with sharing their view point with them or saying things that they feel the protagonist is withholding. This technique allows the group member to see how others see the enactment from their point of view. It helps them get in touch with their “feeling” and thoughts about the experience that they would otherwise suppress. This role helps the protagonist to be more alive and to overcome shyness and hesitation. It also serves as the inner voice of the protagonist.

Mirroring: Involves a group member taking on the role of the protagonist and reenacting the same scene that was just played out. This allows the protagonist to look upon themselves and see how they relate to others and to see patterns in their body language or behavior they are not aware of.

Self-presentation: This is the protagonist’s was of expressing themselves.

Role reversal: This involves the protagonist taking on the role of an auxiliary ego to learn how to see themselves from another prospective and allowing them the experience relates through the eyes of another’s eyes. This technique also helps the group in the warm-up by the protagonist acting out how an auxiliary ego acts and talks for the group. This can be done for all the new people brought into the enactment to assist the group in seeing what the protagonist is going through.

Soliloquy: This is when the protagonist talks about his thoughts and feelings but does not address the members of the group acting as auxiliary egos but more toward the audience and the world itself. Unlike a monologue the protagonist is not talking to any one person or group of people but more to themselves.

Empty chair: This technique is best known from Gestalt therapy as developed by Fritz Perls who was a regular attendant at the Moreno’s Beacon Hill workshops. Dr. Moreno however originally developed the original idea of using an empty chair as technique as an elaboration of the role-reversal therapy. Perls elaborated on Moreno’s idea and created a technique used often in Gestalt therapy to help people talk about their problems and conflicts.

Modeling: Group members take on the role of the protagonist and are asked how they would handle the situation differently. This allows the protagonist to watch different solutions arise to the same problem which can help them to better understand the situation.

Role training: The ability to direct and try things out. The rehearsal of an enactment.

Future projection: This technique helps the protagonist to see insight into the future by presenting an opportunity for them to act out a future event. This can help someone see into the future how illogical their beliefs or thoughts are because it “shows” them something that they think is real or going to happen but not necessarily the future as it will be. Therapeutic Spiral Model (TSM): “TSM is a form of psychodrama that is structured to manage overwhelming affect and avoidance mechanisms found in trauma survivors” (McVea and Gow, 2006 p. 1). It allows for trauma victims to experience the trauma in a controlled clinical setting. Props and costumes are often used in this type of therapy.

Psychodrama Then and Now Psychodrama has changed a lot in the last few decades and yet has stayed within Dr. Moreno’s basic idea structure and concept. Psychodrama can be used in individual therapy or “a deux” as it is called. This is not the intended method that Dr. Moreno was going for but as with many therapy concepts the idea is taken and expanded upon to get what is need form it and to make it better. There are several institutes that offer classes and training in psychotherapy across the United States and in several countries. The Moreno Institute East had curriculums designed by Zerka T. Moreno including training and education in Psychodrama. Psychodrama has declined in the extent of empirical research that is done on it since Dr. Moreno’s death in 1974 but it maintains its appeal and standings as a proven therapeutic technique.

Discussion Psychodrama can produce dramatic effects on a person so caution must be used. Hurting or confusing a client is possible so the director must take care and watch for signs of distress from any group members but with special attention toward the protagonist during the action phase. Psychodrama most times causes a catharsis to members of the group and this release of emotions can sometimes be harmful. Because of this psychodrama is not always best suited for all times of mental issues and must sometimes be performed on an individual basis to assist the person in moving to a full group meeting.

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...Problem Solving and Decision Making: Consideration of Individual Differences Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator William G. Huitt Citation: Huitt, W. (1992). Problem solving and decision making: Consideration of individual differences using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Journal of Psychological Type, 24, 33-44. Retrieved from [date] Return to: | Readings in Educational Psychology | Educational Psychology Interactive | Abstract Improving individuals' and groups' abilities to solve problems and make decisions is recognized as an important issue in education, industry, and government. Recent research has identified a prescriptive model of problem solving, although there is less agreement as to appropriate techniques. Separate research on personality and cognitive styles has identified important individual differences in how people approach and solve problems and make decisions. This paper relates a model of the problem-solving process to Jung's theory of personality types (as measured by the MBTI) and identifies specific techniques to support individual differences. The recent transition to the information age has focused attention on the processes of problem solving and decision making and their improvement (e.g., Nickerson, Perkins, & Smith, 1985; Stice, 1987; Whimbey & Lochhead, 1982). In fact, Gagne (1974, 1984) considers the strategies used in these processes to be a primary outcome of modern......

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