Can you tell me more about psychodrama? Long Answer

This is a brief precis of of psychodrama. Further references are available at the end of the answer.

The question often arises – what is psychodrama? Aspects of the answer appear on this page. Psychodrama is a profound way to look at life in all its complexity and chaos.

Psychodrama is deep and complex

So much training and self-development is shallow and simplistic: ‘Learn this and you will be able to do that’. But human beings don’t work this way, because real life is complex and unpredictable. Knowing what to do is very different from being able to do it. Psychodrama is a profound way to look at life in all its complexity and chaos. And to do this in a teachable, straightforward manner. This way you can face life with confidence and spontaneity.

‘Psyche’ relates to the spirit or mind, while ‘drama’ relates to the stories acted out in life every day. By combining mind and action, psychodrama gets to the reality beneath the surface. It teaches you to ‘feel colours’ or ‘see smells’, as it were. It may sound a bit ‘airy fairy’ but it’s not. Once you get below the surface you can learn things about yourself and the roles you play that will help you make a real difference to your life and the lives of people around you.

A typical psychodrama session

How does psychodrama work in practice? In a typical session, a small group of enthusiastic people work cooperatively to do their personal psychodramas and are led by an experienced practitioner. The trainer will ask someone to get up and act out some of their deepest personal or communal concerns, such as being bullied in the workplace, or the plight of the homeless in society. Others in the group will join in, acting the extra roles in the person’s drama. The session develops spontaneously as each person in turn takes the lead role in their own drama or support roles in other people’s dramas.

In this open-ended way, people find ideas and solutions they didn’t know they had, and which they would never have found using conventional training or self-discovery methods. Instead of passively absorbing ‘the answers’, they actively find their own answers and help other people find theirs. The whole thing is spontaneous and fluid, not didactic and rigid.

Exploring what is important for you

As a participant in a psychodrama session you can explore the life situations that are of interest and concern to you through this type of dramatic enactment. In the course of the enactment you can express, refine and integrate new ways of being and doing. Psychodrama works for people of all ages and cultures with a wide range of life experiences. It strengthens your sense of self. It also strengthens your relationships with others and your effectiveness in groups.

Psychodrama assists individuals to:

  • re-examine their current life situations, their past, their social networks and cultural context
  • generate new perspectives on particular events or situations
  • develop fresh responses to entrenched relationship dynamics
  • prepare for future situations in which they wish to function with a greater degree of flexibility, vitality and immediacy
  • bring together action, insight and ‘here and now’ experience as they engage with life
  • enlarge perceptions of themselves and others
  • check out the personal development programs

Psychodrama assists groups to:

  • examine themselves and constructively work through the dynamics of group life
  • recognise patterns of interaction and interpersonal dynamics
  • investigate both the formal and informal relationship networks
  • recognize their collective functioning and make informed decisions about changing group norms
  • check out the Core program and the calendar of training events

History of psychodrama

Psychodrama is based on the philosophy and methods conceieved of by psychiatrist Dr Jacob Moreno (1889-1974). It grew out of his experiments in Vienna in the 1920’s with the theatre of spontaneity, a form of improvisational theatre. Moving to the USA in 1925 he continued to combine this with his interest in social science, exploring the possibilities of treating clients using group psychotherapy. This work has been further refined by many practitioners and training institutes around the world including in the United Kingdom, Central and Eastern Europe, USA, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Though somewhat younger, Moreno was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, and like Freud he developed techniques to get below the surface of ordinary life to help people heal. Yet where Freud used the couch, Moreno used the stage, and instead of sitting passively he was an active participant on this stage.

Moreno developed several techniques related to psychodrama, including sociodrama, sociometry, role theory and group psychotherapy, all of which are studied within the QTIP program.

Psychodrama is being actively used and taught throughout to the world. In places such as North and South America, Canada, the European Union, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Japan.

Experiential Training

Psychodrama is taught experientially. This means that the training is highly interactive, involving you with working with yourself, your life, the life of others and the the development of the group. This method of teaching provides a form of deep learning that grounds the learning in your identity not just a series of ideas.

Prelude to training

Becasue the training is so profound and deep it is important for potentialk trainees to have the opportunity to both experience the method and to experience the training. To that end we have a wide range of experiential psychodrama programs available (with more to come) and they can be found on the various Campus pages. A series of training program are also available for people who would like to try out the method and be exposed to the theory and practise also gfound on the Campus pages.

What is psychodrama?

Psychodrama is a method for working with groups and individuals that gets below the surface of personal and interpersonal dilemmas through the use of action methods by highly training professionals.

So much training and self-development is shallow and simplistic: ‘Learn this and you will be able to do that’. But human beings don’t work this way, because real life is complex and unpredictable. Knowing what to do is very different from being able to do it. Psychodrama is a profound way to look at life in all its complexity and chaos. And to do this in a teachable, straightforward manner. This way you can face life with confidence and spontaneity.

‘Psyche’ relates to the spirit or mind, while ‘drama’ relates to the stories acted out in life every day. By combining mind and action, psychodrama gets to the reality beneath the surface. It teaches you to ‘feel colours’ or ‘see smells’, as it were. It may sound a bit ‘airy fairy’ but it’s not. Once you get below the surface you can learn things about yourself and the roles you play that will help you make a real difference to your life and the lives of people around you.

Does psychodrama work for everyone?

Psychodrama can work effectively for everyone.

Psychodrama works for people of all ages and cultures as well as with people with a wide range of life experiences. It strengthens your sense of self. It also strengthens your relationships with others and your effectiveness in groups.

What can psychodrama do for individuals?

This is a very short synopsis of the general types of outcomes individuals get from doing psychodrama.

Individuals who use psychodrama can expect to be able to:

  1. re-examine their current life situations, their past, their social networks and cultural context;
  2. generate new perspectives on particular events or situations;
  3. develop fresh responses to entrenched relationship dynamics;
  4. prepare for future situations in which they wish to function with a greater degree of flexibility, vitality and immediacy;
  5. bring together action, insight and ‘here and now’ experience as they engage with life;
  6. enlarge perceptions of themselves and others.

What can psychodrama do for groups?

This is a short precis of how psychodrama assists groups to look below the surface of their problems to develop lasting solutions.

Psychodrama assists groups to:

  1. examine themselves and constructively work through the dynamics of group life;
  2. recognise patterns of interaction and interpersonal dynamics;
  3. investigate both the formal and informal relationship networks;
  4. recognize their collective functioning and make informed decisions about changing group norms;
  5. investigate possible changes to group norms and how these might play out.

What happens in a typical psychodrama session and how does psychodrama work in practice?

The group begins with developing group cohesion, followed by important personal elements of individuals lives being acted out on the stage so that they gain a larger appreciation of their own and others’ lives. The other participants cooperate and learn at the saem time.

In a typical session, a small group of enthusiastic people work cooperatively to do their personal psychodramas and are led by an experienced qualified practitioner. The practitioner first gets the group members connected so that they can work cooperatively with one another. The practitioner will then ask someone to get up and act out some of their deepest personal or communal concerns, such as being bullied in the workplace, or the plight of the homeless in society. Others in the group will join in, acting the extra roles in the person’s drama. The session develops spontaneously as each person in turn takes the lead role in their own drama, or support roles in other people’s dramas.

What will I experience as a participant in psychodrama?

As a participant in psychodrama you will experience an expanded way of seeing, feeling, and living in the world.

As a participant in a psychodrama session you can explore the life situations that are of interest and concern to you through dramatic enactment. In the course of the enactment you can express, refine and integrate new ways of being and doing. You may prefer to be part of the audience or to join in with others as they try out new forms of lining their own lives.

Is psychodrama new or has it been around for a while?

Psychodrama has been around for many decades. It is nearly 100 years since Moreno, its developer, began conceiving of his methods. They have developed far since that time.

The psychodrama method began it’s development in the early 1920s in Vienna, Austria by J L Moreno, and it has been expanded, researched, practiced and taught since that time. There are professional associations in most countries, and conferences and world congresses have been held for many years throughout the world.

How does psychodrama and sociodrama work?

Psychodrama and sociodrama work because they don’t make anyone do anything. The emphasis is on developing the creativity to solve one’s own problems.
In an open-ended way of people try out and enact different roles and responses to difficult problems, people find ideas and solutions they didn’t know they had, and which they would never have found using conventional training or self-discovery methods. Instead of passively absorbing ‘the answers’, they actively find their own answers and help other people find theirs. The whole thing is spontaneous and fluid, not didactic and rigid. The emphasis is on each individual developing their own spontaneity, their own capacity for creativity, and applying that to any problems or worries.

What is psychodrama training?

A short description regarding psychodrama training and what an exceptional training method it is.

Psychodrama training is an exceptionally engaging training method. Each person’s life is a drama, and each person acts many roles in their life. Through deep experiential learning programs to teach you the psychodramatic method, The Moreno Collegium for Human Centred Learning, Research and Development works to help you find ways to improve life for yourself, those around you, your family, your organisations, communities and world. Our programs give you the skills to work with your’s and other’s life dramas and dilemmas with confidence, creativity and spontaneity. The training done with Psychodrama Asutralia campuses around Australia takes authorship back from authorities and places it squarely where it belongs with individuals and communities working in their local contexts.

How is psychodrama taught?

This is a short description about the nature of psychodrama training and how profound it can be.

The training is experientially based, is profound and involves participants working with the psychodramatic method as both participant, observer, researcher and student.

The training is taught through supervised experiential learning. The aim of this type of learning is for trainees to know the different aspects of the psychodramatic method through their experience. Every member of a training group becomes a group leader, a director of a psychodrama, a sociodrama, a role training session or a sociometric exploration, or assists by playing a role in someone else’s drama and participates as a group member in group interaction.

What is sociodrama?

A sociodramatist works with a group using action methods to promote new solutions to old problems and novel and contextually appropriate ones for newly emerging problems.

Sociodrama is the application of the methods of Dr J L Moreno (1889-1974) to address social and group issues. Sociodrama has applications in education, organisational and community settings. The premise of sociodrama is that all human growth and human functioning is powerfully influenced by wider social influences in our culture. A human being grows up in a social field that exerts enormous influence that may be largely beyond conscious awareness. All our lives we have been bombarded with belief systems, value systems and ideas about how life should work. These social and cultural forces have a powerful influence on our every day actions at home, in groups, at work at play, in silence, when alone or when in relationships and in all group situation. Sociodrama addresses these social and cultural forces whether in the world, our country, our communtiy, our work place, our family or even all together.

What does a sociodramatists work with and do?

A sociodramatist works with a group using action methods to promote new solutions to old problems and novel and contextually appropriate ones for newly emerging problems.

The sociodramatist applies principles of sociometry, role theory, organisational theory and psychodramatic techniques to assist individuals to bring about effective group and inter group functioning. The sociodramatist produces interaction in groups of different sizes and configurations to identify the social concerns of the group and formulate a sociodramatic question, develop a dramatic portrayal of the social system, and makes an analysis. Group members develop their own new perceptions and new approaches are opened upfor the whoe group that lead to more open group norms and creative behaviour.

The sociodrama director enables a group and it’s individuals to:

  1. Explore in action the unique social and cultural forces from the past, present and future that impact on our every action in life;
  2. Help individuals, groups and organisations to free themselves from restrictive values and belief systems that are transmitted through culture since birth;
  3. Orient participants to those values and belief systems that assist in the creative expression of one’s unique vitality in any group situation;
  4. Unravel the social and cultural makeup of groups through analysis of sub groups, describing the value and expectation systems that are operating;
  5. Have a purposeful exploration of the relationship between the self and the groups they belong to within society and the world;
  6. Promote deep understanding and respect between cultures, groups and sub group;
  7. Observe and analyse a social system in order to improve group, community, organisational and team development;
  8. Learn effective metho ds in the resolution of conflict.

What is sociometry and sociometric methods?

Sociometric methods are used to measure the real nature of interpersonal relationships in individuals lives, in families, in teams, and in organisations.

Sociometric methods have been developed over time, with the principle that the investigator is an active group member. Material generated from the group, belongs to the group members. Is not taken away by the researcher and managers to make decisions about the group. Sociometricinterventions bring flexibility to systems and groups by investigating the choices with the people who make them, and displaying the patterns of relationships created by those choices. Stimulated by this information, group members create new patterns for themselves, and enhance authentic companionship and greater mutuality in the group. It brings to mind the principle that when human beings can see and measure what it is they are doing and are apart of, of their own accord, set about improving the situation.

Sociometry is the social science of relationships. Sociometry enables us to measure, map and develop relationships so that the invisible forces within an organisation are made visible and can be explored. Sociometry is an essential tool for people to build mature group networks and positive relationship behaviours.

The sociometrist uses a range of action-tools to display group dynamics — the socio-emotional and psychosocial network of relationships in groups. There is power for group members in making the invisible, visible, so everyone can see what is happening within the group. Groups and individuals can choose whether to make changes to function as a more dynamic and successful group as they go about their work.

How much has been written on psychodrama and the related areas?

An enormous amount has been written on psychodrama. A search of Google Scholar will show up many reading opportunities.

There are many books published in a number of languages since the 1920’s. An extended bibliography is available at Jim Sack’s bibliography. There are numerous scientific journals published around the world in languages such as English, French, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and others as well as articles in a wide range of other journals. New books are published on various uses and aspects of psychodrama every year. All Psychodrama Australia campuses, in each state, have extensive psychodrama libraries of both paper and electronic version of significant texts.

Please contact your nearest campus with further details of what you might be after. Click here of the Australian Campuses.

Why are you called Psychodrama Australia?

Psychodrama Australia is so named because we are Australia wide and we are the only AANZPA accredited training institutes as well.

Psychodrama Australia got its name when the staff of the five AANZPA accredited training institutes, from around Australia in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney decided that it would greatly benefit them, their trainees, and the training of psychodrama in Australia, if they amalgamated into one organisation. A two-year transition process was developed and in 2013 Psychodrama Australia was born. Out training is accredited with AANZPA, and as we are the only AANZPA accredited organisations teaching psychodrama in Australia, we considered the name ‘Psychodrama Australia’ both bold and accurate.