Psychodrama and Dreams

This approach was developed originally by Dr. Jacob Moreno. In Psychodrama there is no ‘interpretation’ of a dream. The dreamer unravels the meaning of the dream by acting it out with the help of others. The dreamer acts the main role of him or herself, and directs the helpers in the other roles. Roles can later be changed to explore other aspects of the dream. In dramatising and exploring the dream in this way the obvious as well as the hidden meaning, associations and emotions are made clear. To finish, the dreamer is encouraged to take the dream forward, altering it to what feels more adequate and satisfying. This gives the person opportunity to express and enact what was absent in the dream, and provides release from recurring dreams, and catharsis where necessary. See Peer Dream Group.

Here are some working tips for using psychodrama:

These rules apply to psychodrama in general.

1. Literal description Describe and evoke the sensory texture of a traumatic event, the sights, sounds, smells, behaviours, the exact dialogue used. Don’t analyze the event, but be literal and detailed; and repeat the description.  

2. Repetition Repeat several times words and phrases that contain a hint of distress, some charge of emotion. Try repeating them louder, exaggerating the posture or gesture that accompanies them.  

3. Amplification Exaggerate and repeat any sudden distress-charged movements of hands, arms, feet, legs, pelvis, head and neck. Find the sound that goes with the amplified movement, then the words. Who are you saying them to, and about what? For tight, rigid body postures, exaggerate them extremely, find the sound that goes with this, then the words, then develop the psychodrama. Or use body-rigidity contradiction (see below).  

4. Psychodrama Play yourself in an early traumatic scene. Let the counsellor be the other person in that scene. Say, and repeat to her several times, things that you never said at the time, but which express and help discharge the distressful feelings. Combine with acting into.  

5. Acting into Act into fear or anger, when appropriate, during repetition and when saying things in a psychodrama. This means simulating vigorously, and purely physically, the movements and sounds of fear or anger discharge. It often helps the real discharge come through, and sometimes it may be different from the acted emotion.  

6. Free association Let deeper levels of your mind work spontaneously.  

□ Catch the thought Verbalize any idea or image that suddenly presents itself during literal description, repetition, role-play, acting into, etc, and work with it, using any of the basic working techniques, as appropriate.  

□ Re-evaluation Verbalize any insights, new connections, thoughts or images that present themselves after discharge. Give them voice or work with them.  

□ Move around the pile Follow associations from event to event around the pile of distress to find an emotionally charged memory, the working area for your session.  

□ Start with what’s on top Relax, take up the attention of your counsellor and wait until what is on top presents itself whether thought, feeling, memory or whatever. Then work on it, or move around the pile.  

□ Silent free association Relax, take up the attention of your counsellor in silence and allow the stream of consciousness to flow freely without control or interference, notice the whirlpool patterns, compulsive flows, restrictions and blockages in it.  

□ Spoken free association Relax, take up the attention of your counsellor and start talking quickly, loudly and non-stop, without control or censorship.  

□ Conscious dreaming Relax, take up your counsellor’s attention, close your eyes, imagine a meadow of free attention and describe it. Then imagine a house of patterns on the edge of meadow. Invite a pattern out into the meadow, describe it, ask it what its message is, use this as a basis for a direction for working.  

□ Phantasize occluded material For operations under general anaesthetic, buried traumatic memories, imagine/phantasize what happened and work on the content of phantasy as if it were a memory.  

□ Phantasize on recall Let your imagination go on actual events and work on the content of the phantasy interwoven with reality.  

7. Contradiction Outwit your control-patterns of self-deprecation by saying and doing things that contradict the pattern, by putting energy or attention in the opposite direction. This releases discharge of the underlying distress. The art of the light direction. You use this when you feel put down, or when you find yourself putting yourself down in some major or minor way.  

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