What is Psychodrama?

The origins of group psychotherapy, sessions that have become a cornerstone of addiction recovery treatment, have their roots in psychodrama. Although this name may initially sound more like a late 90s softcore metal band than an effective form of medical treatment, psychodrama has continued to be an effective form of therapy for addiction recovery patients, particularly in the cases of those with past trauma. The practice of psychodrama involves an experiential form of therapy. An individual’s real-world conflict or drama is further explored in a group session with multiple participants engaging in role-playing random or pattern-based reactions to the proposed drama. 


How is Psychodrama Done?


A broad example that the majority of individuals can relate to exercise could go into even more detail about specific conflicts arising at family holiday events, but the broader scope will help better exemplify the benefits of practicing psychodrama for these purposes. An individual’s conflict will first be addressed, and then the multiple participants will play-act potential variations of that conflict, giving the intended individual and the group a chance to experience their potential reactions. Conflict resolution will play a significant role in practicing psychodrama, but more importantly, this therapeutic modality recognizes triggers and introduces the concept of preventative measures. Playacting real-world scenarios of conflict will also allow addiction recovery patients to be better prepared and not be taken off guard when these conflicts do arise. Addiction recovery patients can equip themselves with an arsenal of solutions reducing the chances of being triggered by real-world stressors. Although generally honed to a singular conflict, this exercise winds up being beneficial to all participants as many of the overarching themes of each proposed conflict will also be shared by members of the group.


This can all sound a little intimidating as if patients are entering their first year of drama school, but moderators are trained to keep the exercise as a fun and practical precursor to the challenges that await those in addiction recovery when they re-enter their independent lifestyles as sober individuals. Recovery patients who undergo group psychodrama sessions will find themselves more adept at identifying potential triggers before they occur and implementing preventive measures that can help them better navigate those triggers if they occur with clear, direct, and thoughtful responses than simply reacting to them. Both of these skill sets offer patients the chance to reduce their chances of relapse significantly.


Past Trauma Affecting Present Addictive Behaviors


Past trauma will often serve as the impetus for continued substance misuse among individuals with addictive disorders. In more severe cases, patients can even develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that eventually becomes entangled with substance misuse as a co-occurring mental health issue to their addictive disorder. Patients suffering from trauma resort to substance misuse to cope with their resurfacing emotional trauma and dull the past pain in the present. However, these actions only exacerbate addictive disorders while also failing to fully address and resolve the emotional damage of past trauma. In essence, patients who have PTSD and addictive disorders find themselves constantly running away from trauma while creating an increased risk for future emotional damage.


For many patients, addiction recovery treatment will afford them the chance to view these past traumas through the lens of sobriety for the first time. This can be a frightening proposition as patients may still not have the tools necessary to handle traumatic emotional experiences. They will also find themselves without the crutch of substance misuse. Psychodrama is a practical and safe way for addiction recovery patients to begin to confront these past traumas as they begin to develop the skill sets that will help them cope in the long term without the aid of substance misuse. Breaking this cycle of mental health issues feeding into an addictive disorder is of tantamount importance for addiction recovery patients receiving treatment. By addressing the addictive disorder first, patients can then use therapeutic modalities like psychodrama to address and heal from the underlying mental health disorders at the root of their substance misuse. Once sobriety is achieved, then all the rest of the dominoes can begin to fall.


When left untreated, past trauma can increase the risks of ongoing substance misuse among individuals diagnosed with addictive disorders. For many, this can be the start of an unending cycle that only further exacerbates both trauma and their addictive behaviors resulting in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder — a disorder that is an all too common co-occurring mental health issue when it comes to addictive disorders. If you or someone you love is struggling with trauma-induced substance misuse, then Choice House has dual diagnosis addiction treatment services that can help. We utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities, which include psychodrama therapy sessions to help recently sober individuals begin to address and heal from traumatic life events. Men participating in our treatment programs are afforded the chance to achieve initial sobriety as they build a new foundation based on love, empathy, and understanding. Through either our 90-day inpatient program, an intensive outpatient service, or while residing at our sober living campus, men will begin to learn the skills necessary to maintain sobriety in the long term as well as the coping mechanisms that will help them process past and potential future traumatic events. To find out more information about our Boulder County, Colorado-based facilities or addiction treatment services, then please give us a call at +1 303-578-4977.

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