By Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP

Exactly what is psychodrama?

The easy answer is that psychodrama is a method to experience your internal reality, what it calls “surplus reality,” through the sharing of your stories, experiences, hopes and visions in action.

For me, psychodrama has been a way of life since I became a board- certified psychodramatist and group psychotherapist and after spending a year-long internship at National Institutes of Mental Health’s clinical psychodrama training program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C., from 1981 to 1982.

Out of my training, personal experience, and collaboration with trusted colleagues throughout the 1990s, I have developed, refined and taught what we call the Therapeutic Spiral Model. It uses the classic psychodramatic methods as its base while adding specific elements for safety, strength-building, and resilience.

Classic psychodrama was designed and advanced by Dr. J.L. Moreno and Zerka T. Moreno and focuses on spontaneity and creativity as the perfect antidote to address stress-related problems and rigid thinking.

Therapeutic Spiral Model Psychodrama is the most up-to-date method of experiential change for people who suffer with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, stemming from personal or collective trauma. It is grounded in the latest research on neurobiology and attachment and provides a powerful experience of change in a safe setting.

These specialized TSM Psychodrama sessions have been conducted online, in families’ living rooms and in psychotherapy offices, community settings, and international work for 35 years and counting.  They have been organized in board rooms and war zones, from therapy practices to the United Nations.

It can be a single memorable experience with one of our certified Therapeutic Spiral International trainers, team leaders and members in a small workshop somewhere in the United States or it can show up in group of one hundred Chinese people in Beijing celebrating new life coming out of recent darkness. It can be easily merged with other methods, like the celebrated Playback Theatre, in sharing poignant stories of border conflicts in the Middle East.

Some of these applications with the model are shared in greater depth in my chapter “PTSD Unites the World: Prevention, Intervention and Training in the Therapeutic Spiral Model” in the new book Why Global Health Matters edited by Chris E. Stout.

About the author

Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP, is the originator of the Therapeutic Spiral Model, which she and her collaborators modified from classical psychodrama to increase safety for survivors of trauma. She has taken this model to 30-plus countries in the past 35 years. Her most recent book is Healing World Trauma with the Therapeutic Spiral Model: Stories from the Frontlines, edited with Francesca Toscani. Learn more about Kate and her international training certification on trauma treatment here.

Dr Kate is a Board Certified Psychodrama Trainer, Educator and Practitioner of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.