Psychodrama is an "exploration of truth through dramatic method."
J.L. Moreno, the founder of Psychodrama.

Psychodrama is an experiential, embodied and expressive method used worldwide to bring the soul into action: psyche meaning soul and drama meaning action.  Psychodrama was developed by J.L and Zerka Moreno. 

Psychodrama brings "to the stage" what lives within as a co-creation between the director, protagonist and group members who can play roles for the protagonist. It can be used with individuals, couples, families and groups. A psychodrama is protagonist led and director facilitated.

A Psychodrama consists of 3 main parts:  the warm up, action and sharing.    A Psychodrama utilizes 5 main instruments:   a Stage, a Protagonist (or Subject), a Director, Auxiliary Egos and an Audience. With creativity and spontaneity, using the natural existing connections (called tele in Psychodrama), a warm up enables a target theme and a Protagonist selection to emerge.   That theme, with the Protagonist's work as the central focus,  is then, in action, explored, brought to regulated catharsis and worked through using role reversal, doubling, mirroring and other experiential, expressive, theater, action techniques.

Drama can be done with metaphors, people, objects, parts and/or states of being such as feelings or thoughts.  If working individually, empty chairs, scarves and/or other objects can hold roles. Sharing following action allows for integration and closure. Sharing is not analysis, feedback or guidance that delivers insight from a position of expertise outside the protagonist's experience. Sharing is a way of offering and receiving reflection story to story, body to body, heart to heart, life to life, Self to Self.  Sharing is an I-Thou experience that is a mutual reflection, or mirroring, delivering profound healing.  It is a sacred experience and is the essential part of safe closure. 

An essential distinction making psychodrama unique from traditional psychotherapies such as dynamic or analysis is that insight does not come through interpretation or expertise outside but rather through experiencing and sharing from the expressive, organic, embodied process.  In Psychodrama, instead of talking about an issue, conflict, pattern or theme, the work is done by acting instead. The work dramatically happens in the present, here and now, and the Protagonist acts out the work as s/he perceives it, completely subjectively.

At the 2012 annual Boston Trauma Conference, Bessel  A. van der Kolk, MD, Medical Director, The Trauma Center, Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, spoke on what is required for the "traumatized brain to get on with life."  He stated, to achieve "affective regulation... the essential piece is action, effective action... building new possibilities... new options for people... a way that stimulates imagination will get your patients better... Body based therapies are the critical frontier for trauma treatment... the only way to change yourself is by becoming deeply aware of yourself... feel the story being told by your body."


Below are some videos clips that offer explanation and demonstration of Psychodrama:

Vintage Video Clip of J. L. Moreno, M.D. Introducing Psychodrama as Therapeutic Theater

Modern Video Clip Introducing Psychodrama

© Boston Psychodrama Institute 2020, design by Joel Thayer

photos by Bill Durham