Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Some Other Foundations of Psychodrama

Originally posted on May 4, 2011

I just returned from attending the national conference of the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama—the only national psychodrama association (though there are a number in other countries); and the first professional association (by about six months) devoted also to group psychotherapy. Two things impressed me: First, in my Acting-In, I describe a number of areas of application, but in the last fifteen years or so another field has opened to the use of psychodrama—trial lawyer-ing! Apparently several programs—especially one organized by Gerry Spence—now include the teaching of psychodrama in their curriculum.

The other development in the last fifteen years has been the growth of the field of neuroscience so that it becomes more plausible to describe the way action methods work in terms of how the brain-body really learns. (This adds to my otherwise rather extensive description of the rationale for using action methods, role playing, psychodrama, and other forms of experiential learning in my book, Foundations of Psychodrama (2000, Springer). It’s not a matter of mere intellectual insight, but rather closer to what Franz Alexander in the 1940s called a “re-educative emotional experience.” Experiential learning, learning by doing, by feeling, and the revision of relatively entrenched mind-habit patterns are all involved. In other papers I’ll comment further about this elaboration of the way psychodramatic methods work and the rationale for their use.

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