Being in two places at once: renegotiating traumatic experience through the surplus reality of psychodrama

By Scott Giacomucci & Amy Stone



This article continues the dialogue started by Skolnik 2018 about the synergistic union of social work and psychodrama group approaches. The theoretical and clinical alignment of psychodrama and sociometry with social work with groups will be described. A practice illustration from Mirmont Treatment Center will be presented and discussed to explore some of the dynamics of psychodrama and, in particular, the therapeutic value of surplus reality. Surplus reality is a creative tool used to provide a therapeutic corrective emotional experience. Integrating insights from neuroscience, this article advocates for psychodrama as a valuable modality for clinical social work- ers engaged in group work.


Social workers are increasingly providing clinical services to trauma survivors using different forms of psychotherapy including group work (Goelitz & Stewart-Kahn, 2013; Landrum, 2016; Malekoff, 2013; Rubin, 2012). Psychodrama, through the phenomenon of surplus reality, has the capacity to renegotiate past traumatic experience by providing corrective and repara- tive experiences in the here and now (Giacomucci, in-press; Hudgins & Toscani, 2013). These reparative psychodrama experiences can reorganize internalized trauma while also promoting changes in the brain (Hudgins,2017; Hug, 2013).

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