Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Enhanced Simulations

Originally posted on January 13, 2018

The German language “Zeitschrift fur Psychodrama”  (Zeitschrift  translated  literally is time-writing, that is, a Journal). The latest issue deals with general sociological concerns from many standpoints. The problem this poses is that it opens wide the implications of Moreno’s vision and throws into question the narrow bounds of professionalism monitored by the Board of Examiners.

In that same spirit of recognizing the further implications of Moreno’s methods, what I call “action methods” crosses boundaries with drama therapy, use of objects in play therapy and the creative arts therapies, has applications in education and business, and in general won’t “hold still” for a narrow fixing of point of view.

This latest German-language issue—the Zeitschrift—casts a broader net, revealing the boundary-crossing issues in many directions. To me, it seems that it’s getting to be time that psychodrama renames itself something to do with simulations, because that’s what accounts for its effectiveness both within the field of psycho-therapy and well beyond that. Indeed, it seems to met that these beyond-therapy applications will soon quite outnumber the applications in therapy, if we keep alert to the underlying dynamics. Better call it “enhanced simulations”—it’s less psychological and less dramatic and more in line with trends in contemporary education.

This another way of talking about psychodrama, perhaps less psychological or psychotherapeutic! It’s a way to recognize that many things require more experiential learning, and also learning that takes into consideration the temperamental inclinations of the student. Some people are more visual, some more auditory, some learn best by doing. There are many other variations in learning style, so we need some way of instruction that involves the students’ temperament!

In thinking about what we do, I’ve become increasingly aware of the ways that Moreno’s methods might be applied quite beyond the context of psychotherapy. I realized that what we have here is the application of the technology of simulations —which has been used in military situations (war games), astronaut training, and innumerable other situations. It’s more holistic, recognizing that merely knowing answers to questions, mere studying of books, doesn’t result in true mastery of the kinds of skills needed in many operations.

The word “enhanced” comes from having the process expose the thoughts behind certain actions. The psychodramatic techniques of the double or asides, for example, do this. But I’ve become aware that enhanced simulations may also be used for non-psychotherapeutic applications of psychodramatic or sociodramatic methods.

Furthermore, the word “drama” technically means re-enactment, but almost a century’s  worth of usage has shifted the word from its original form of re-enactment to something altogether more emotionally intense. Therefore, I’m acknowledging this by removing the suffix “-drama,” and making the phrase instead, “action explorations.” Sometimes it’s not all that dramatic, and indeed taking the emotionality out of the situation can often clarify matters.

A third trend that calls for a shift in our language from psychodrama to action methods is that there have emerged a number of other fields that draw on similar principles, such as drama therapy, educational drama, role playing, applied improvisation, and related approaches. It’s important to build bridges, not barriers.

For all these reasons we need a shift in lauguage. Let’s leave psychodrama for it’s use as a recognized form of psychotherapy, as it is established that way also in the literature. (Michael Wieser’s online psychodrama bibliography has many thousands of entries!) In summary, I propose the use of the term “action methods” instead of “psychodrama” when referring to non-clinical, non-psychotherapeutic applications of Moreno’s methods.

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