Chapter 8: Theory & Practice of Group
Counseling. Gerald Corey
Introduction to Psychodrama
Psychodrama is an
action technique in
group therapy which
allows clients to
explore their
problems through
role playing and
other dramatic
devices to gain
behavioral skills and
insights. (Corey,
2008, p. 190).
+ Creation of Psychodrama
 Created
in the 1930’s by J.L. Moreno and
Further Developed by his wife Ezra Toméan
Moreno and other followers.
 Role
playing is an example of a psycho
dramatic method.
 The
key feature of psychodrama is that it
provides an opportunity to try new solutions
and reactions to a given scenario. It is
practice for real life situations and to try new
 This
method helps promote creativity,
problem solving, communication, and selfawareness. (Corey, 2008, p. 191).
Key Concepts and Perspectives
Creativity: Moreno believed that an essential feature of therapy
is to facilitate the clients creativity in exploring themselves and
discovering new coping skills for life.
Spontaneity: The best way to encourage creativity is through
spontaneous exploratory activities. Moreno sought to implement
activities which fostered the courage to improvise.
Working in the present moment: An important element of
psycho drama is to reinvent previously experienced events and
learn new reactions through role playing.
Encounter: Group members must connect with one another in a
meaningful and genuine manner.
Tele: Moreno referred to this as “the cement which holds groups
together.” Similar to the concept of rapport. (Corey, 2008, p.191193).
Key Concepts and Perspectives
Surplus Reality: Re-enactments of the clients psychological
world without the constraints of reality.
Catharsis and Insight: Catharsis is the release of emotions
during psychodrama. Insights are the cognitive shifts in
awareness that are produced by the catharsis.
Reality Testing: The testing of behaviors in scenarios that
would potentially not be socially acceptable in a safe
Role Theory: Moreno’s idea that we are all actors engaging in
improvisation in daily life on the “stage of life.” (Corey, 2008,
Role of the Group Leader
•Also referred to as the psychodrama Director, the group
leader is the producer, the facilitator and catalyst,
observer and analyzer.
•The Director’s primary responsibility is to help engage
the group in improvisation and creating an environment
where spontaneity is encouraged. (Corey, 2008, p. 197).
+ Necessary Players in Psychodrama
The Protagonist: The focus of the psychdramatic enactment.
This individual presents the problem to be explored. Group
members should feel comfortable to decline the role of
protagonist or volunteer should they desire to.
The Auxiliary Egos: The supporting roles, usually portraying
significant people in the protagonists life.
The Audience: The audience is the remainder of the group
who observe the enactment.
The Stage: Area where the enactment takes place. (Corey,
2008, p. 198-199).
Psychodrama continued
involves a series of
phases termed
work, and sharing.
+ Phase 1: The Warm-Up
Initial activities to build group trust and
coherence. For example the group leader
may introduce the purpose of the role-plays
and then interview each group member
about potential scenarios that they may wish
to explore through a dramatic experience.
The goal is to foster spontaneity and a
willingness to try new behaviors and a
sense of playfulness. (Corey, 2008, p. 200).
Phase 2: Action Phase
•The Action phase is
engaging the the role-play
•The goal is to bring
awareness to feelings or
attitudes the scenario elicits
that perhaps the
protagonist was not
previously aware of.
•Important to avoid
commentaries and instead
have the protagonist
engage in alternative
responses to a given
scenario. (Corey, 2008, p.
and Discussing
•Group members
should discuss how the
enactment affected
them and avoid
analyzing the
protagonist or offering
•Sharing with the
group leads to
bonding and a sense
that one is “not alone”
•It takes courage to
share so the
protagonist deserves
to be honored. (Corey,
2008, p.203-205).
+ Therapeutic Techniques and Procedures
Self-presentation: The protagonist introduces the
situation to be enacted.
Role Reversal: The protagonist plays the role of
someone other than themselves in their chosen
scenario. Considered one of the most powerful tools in
Double: An auxiliary character plays the part of the
protagonists inner self.
Soliloquy: Protagonist imagines themselves in a place
where they are free to vocalize their thoughts.
The Empty Chair: Jacob Moreno originated this
technique which was later adopted by the Gestalt
Mirror Technique: Aimed at fostering self-reflection.
Another member mirrors the actions and gestures of
the protagonist.
Future Projection: Enactments designed to help group
members work out future scenarios about which they
have concerns. (Corey, 2008, p.206-210).
Therapeutic Techniques and
Procedures Continued
The Magic Shop: A warm-up technique in which the
participant imagines themselves in a shop full of jars which
contain different personality traits. The participant then
expresses these qualities and then exchange them for
Replay: Trying a scenario again.
Role Training: A new reaction being tested by a protagonist
in order to experience how it feels to act out a new behavior.
(Corey, 2008, p. 211).
Psychodrama and Group Work in
•Role-playing can be useful in schools and help students to gain
perspective and a way to integrate emotions and creativity.
•Some techniques in classical psychodrama are too intense for
children, adolescents, or a school setting.
•Role-reversal can help build empathy and is an appropriate
technique to employ with this age group. (Corey, 2008, p.212).
+ Psychodrama and Multicultural
If English is not a participants native
language the participant is
encouraged to speak in their native
language as this allows them to more
fully experience their emotions.
Afterwards the participant can
summarize some of their experience
for the rest of the group.
If a group member is not
comfortable with self disclosure
many of the techniques in
psychodrama would not be
appropriate but there is much to be
gained as an audience member
observing the enactments of others.
(Corey, 2008, p. 213).
Evaluations of Psychodrama
Evaluations of Psychodrama
Contributions and Strengths: Action oriented approaches allows
participants to experience a given scenario in a mode other than
simply talking about it. Allows participants to see and discover
alternate ways of dealing with those around them.
Integration with other Theories: Many of these techniques can be
employed and provide rich material. For example Gestalt therapy
successfully incorporates the empty chair technique.
Limitations: Group leaders must take caution when dealing with a
participant who has significant disturbances and must consider the
safety of other group members. Has limited value for participants
who are very uncomfortable with sharing and acting out scenarios.
These techniques may not be appropriate for those with social
anxieties or reserved personalities.
Group leaders should have received training as a safeguard for
practicing these techniques. (Corey, 2008, p. 214-217).
Corey, G.(2008). Theory and practice of group counseling (8th
ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.