How Psychodrama Works in the Treatment of Addiction

Psychodrama therapy is a complementary form of therapy that can be very beneficial in treating addiction and other mental health disorders. In its broadest sense, psychodrama therapy activities are a dramatic production in which the participants, who are either actors or spectators, provide the source material, create the production and benefit from the catharsis that the drama may create.

The goal of psychodrama is to give patients a way to develop, practice, and adopt new and healthier roles and behaviors. Although the objective is a difficult one, many participants find the experience to be enjoyable. It’s important to note, however, that psychodrama is much more than pretending or playacting.

Since it is an active form of therapy in real-time, psychodrama can be an empowering alternative or complement to traditional talk therapy. Some of the common benefits patients can experience include:

  • The opportunity to express their feelings in a safe environment
  • Improved self-confidence
  • New life skills
  • Improved relationships with others
  • New and more positive behaviors and thought patterns
  • Better communication skills
  • Overcoming a loss

A Brief History of Psychodrama Therapy

Jacob Levy Moreno was a Viennese psychiatrist who originally developed psychodrama therapy. He believed that an individual’s capacity for creativity and spontaneity makes them the co-creators of their universe.

He posited that a person’s strength resides in his or her own uniqueness. Therefore, the less we allow ourselves to hide our uniqueness to conform, the truer we are to our authentic selves, which allows us to connect with others on a real, deep, and authentic level. The process of psychodrama therapy activities is specifically designed to help bring people closer to this authentic state. That state allows for spontaneity and creativity that can improve one’s life.

The Theory Behind Psychodrama

Therapists who specialize in psychodrama believe that memories are at the root of a person’s feelings and dysfunction. Each memory is quite different from one person to the next. Still, usually, they revolve around an incident where the individual was emotionally hurt, ignored, or made to feel marginalized, misunderstood, or compelled to act out.

While the memory of the event may remain vivid in a person’s mind, they often lack a full understanding of what occurred and how things might have differed. As such, the memory serves to keep them in their pattern of dysfunction instead of helping them resolve the issue.

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