What Is Psychodrama Therapy?

Psychodrama therapy is a type of therapy, which uses role-playing to help clients learn ways to reconcile past events, practice social skills, or deal with conflict in relationships. While most commonly practiced in a group setting, elements of psychodrama can be incorporated into both group or individual therapy sessions. You can use psychodrama as part of a holistic treatment approach as a form of experiential therapy.

Psychodrama therapy (more commonly known as just “psychodrama”) can treat several different issues. Often, you will use psychodrama to practice the skills that you’ve learned through other types of therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Your therapist might use psychodrama to treat issues like:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma disorders
  • Coping with grief and loss
  • Mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Relationship problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Substance abuse and addiction

When you include psychodrama as part of your treatment plan, you can enhance your progress by practicing new skills in a safe environment.

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What Are the Benefits of Psychodrama Therapy?

Psychodrama takes what you learn during talk therapy and allows you to practice coping skills in a “mock” setting. When dealing with mental health issues, you might struggle to express yourself to others. You also might have lingering thoughts about past relationships and events, which can cause distress unless you reconcile these events.

Psychodrama can help you build some of the following skills:

  • Self-confidence
  • Expressing emotions and needs
  • Assertiveness
  • Conflict resolution
  • Self-advocacy
  • Interpersonal communication

When you practice these skills during psychodrama therapy, you can prepare yourself for real-world interactions. With the help and feedback from peers and your therapists, you can practice healthy ways to communicate with others. The peers in your group can help you act out past events or current conflicts to help you move forward with confidence and self-assurance.

Is Psychodrama Therapy Effective?

When deciding what type of treatment you want, you need to consider what will work best for you. Psychodrama can be an effective part of a holistic treatment plan to help bridge the gap between therapy and real life.

According to Frontiers in Psychology, research on trauma-focused psychodrama to treat PTSD in an inpatient addiction facility “[demonstrated] clinically significant reductions in overall PTSD symptoms (over 25% change).” Participants in this study said that psychodrama had a “capacity for establishing emotional safety, connection, and group cohesion.” They also “described the trauma-focused psychodrama treatment approach as enjoyable and helpful.”

You can benefit from psychodrama even if you do not have PTSD. Most other substance use and mental health disorders develop due to traumatic events or unhealthy patterns of coping that begin early in life.

Psychodrama, Addiction, and Mental Health Disorders

While not everyone in treatment for substance abuse or mental health has PTSD, most clients have some form of trauma in their past. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to traumatic childhood events as “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which is “linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood.”

Psychodrama can be an effective way of dealing with trauma during any phase of life, from childhood to adulthood. Since trauma and ACEs are often underlying issues for those with mental health and substance use disorders, psychodrama can help you manage these issues from the past to learn new coping methods in the future.

What to Expect During a Psychodrama Session

A session of therapy that includes psychodrama will use elements of theater to help you practice coping skills. During your session, you will go through the following three phases:

  • Warm-up: You will speak with members of your group to build trust and establish a connection. You will be helping one another learn new ways of coping. As you build trust, you can feel more comfortable being vulnerable and expressing yourself.
  • Action: During the action stage, you might pair up with another person or “act out a scene” in front of the group for feedback. You might play the role of yourself or another person in your life, while your peers fulfill other roles.
  • Sharing: You can also consider this the reflective stage following the performance. While sharing, you get feedback from your peers and therapist about the action that unfolded as you or your peers role-played. You can even be part of this stage even if you didn’t participate in any activity during the session.


Sometimes, observing others working out similar issues as you during a group session can be beneficial to learning new skills. You might not always role-play or speak up during your group. However, many peers in group sessions are dealing with similar problems. By hearing and seeing how other people cope, you can learn what might be helpful to you.

Psychodrama and Holistic Therapy in South Florida

Psychodrama can be part of holistic treatment during your recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. Ambrosia Behavioral Health of South Florida incorporates psychodrama in our holistic treatment and group therapy sessions. If you or a loved one are struggling, call us now or visit our admissions page today to learn more.
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