For decades, psychologists, researchers, and community leaders alike have worked diligently to identify unique modalities for treating addiction, mental health disorders, pain management and more. The psychological issues we face walking into addiction recovery isn’t an isolated event – for many, trauma and mental illness co-occur alongside addiction, but without the right tools, there’s little room for improvement. Addiction recovery is about treating the whole self, and since we all have different ways of learning and responding, creative approaches fill that gap of subjectivity. If you’re looking for a creative way to express yourself, learn from others and develop healthy coping mechanisms, psychodrama could be an excellent addition to your treatment regime.
What is Psychodrama?
Psychodrama is defined by the British Psychodrama Association (BPA) as, “[A form of treatment that] employs guided dramatic action to examine problems or issues raised by an individual.”
In 2017, a Ph.D. student from Alliant International University emphasized that with psychodrama’s practice settings, format, goals, techniques and mental health benefits, it’s quite similar to psychotherapy – also known as “talk therapy”. The main difference is that there are often more creative movements involved – and through a group setting, coordination leads to lessons learned from new experiences. Examples of psychodrama include:
- Role Reversal – one person acts out a scenario they’ve experienced with members of the group playing other people involved. Afterwards, they recreate the scenario – but the original person plays a different role other than themselves. This helps many people gain new perspectives on what others might be thinking in certain instances.
- Mirroring – A group member takes on the original person’s role while they step back – allowing themselves to see their own actions from afar, with the ability to pick up patterns of speech, body language or behavior that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to pick up within the situation itself.
- Modeling – Group members are asked to replay that very scenario and to react in their own ways. The original person is able to watch different types of reactions acted out depending on the person, and this could provide them with suggestions on how to better handle various circumstances.
- Doubling – The original person in the group re-enacts the scene, but this time another group member is next to them, expressing out loud what the original person’s body language is conveying. This helps the original person identify how their body language (such as clenching their fists) may contribute to the conversation and therefore influence the outcome.
Benefits of Psychodrama
A 2018 study published in the journal Social Work with Groups covered the therapeutic values of “surplus reality”, which is when a person enacts something that exists in their subjective reality. When this happens, a person expresses more than what they’d usually say in daily life – they break through the barriers that were holding them back before and take on a more positive social identity.
Tanya Newman, an expert on psychodrama, stated in an article titled, “Creating the Role: How Dramatherapy Can Assist in Re/Creating an Identity with Recovering Addicts” that for those in addiction recovery, psychodrama provides an opportunity to remove the “addict”, “liar”, “failure”, or “depressed” label – and in doing so, the role of a “person in recovery” is formed. Psychodrama allows those in recovery to gain new insight, which leads to the development of resilience and greater sense of self-worth.
Gaining Emotional Healing
We can’t go back in time to respond differently to the situations we’ve experienced, but sometimes recreating them in a safe setting allows us to gain some closure. We’re able to see things in a different light – and that’s how we come to grow stronger in recovery. Topics covered in psychodrama include relationships conflicts, trauma, grief, addiction, personality disorders and more; these sensitive topics tend to lie at the root of our belief system and working through them alongside a therapist means that we finally have a chance to let them out.
Enhanced Connection to Others
It’s easy to believe that we’re the only ones going through tough circumstances, but we’re truly part of a greater group of people who’ve struggled with similar issues. Psychodrama therapy asks us to connect with others and collaborate with them to promote growth and learning. For many in recovery, this time spent sparks supportive peer relationships that only further enhance one’s chances for success.
You don’t have to consider yourself an actor, artist, or creative person by any means. In psychodrama, a therapist will guide participants into the activities they will carry out – and you will not be alone. Don’t wait any longer to start pushing your boundaries in recovery; that’s often when the most change will occur. Michael Phelps, one of the most successful Olympian swimmers of all time, once stated: “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you’ll get.”
Speak to a professional from Avalon Malibu today about options for treatment. It’s never too late to turn your life around.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.