Psychodrama as psychotherapy
On September 13, 2013, ecns.cn reported that 620 prisoners from 12 prisons in Beijing participated in therapeutic psychodramas as a form of psychodrama therapy. All of the prisoners were “emotionally disturbed, but by closely recreating real life situations and acting them out, the prisoners” could “evaluate their behavior, and more deeply understand” the “particular situation in their lives”. “One prisoner who refused to confess played out a drama and confessed and promised to be good.” The report said that “psychological counseling is [an] important part of rehabilitation”.
Master Chen comments:
Psychodrama therapy, or psychotherapeutic drama is role playing as psychotherapy.
In parenting, some have advised talking to the errant child to think how he or she would feel when being victimized. Parenting counselors say that this would make the errant child realize his or her misdeeds and thus change his or her behavior.
Psychotherapeutic role playing gives the perpetrator a chance at self criticism and self analysis of the misdeed he or she has committed. It also gives the perpetrator a chance to realize what is incorrect behavior, especially if the perpetrator plays the role of his or her victim. The goal is to make the perpetrator realize the impact he or she has brought upon the victim. Therefore, it seems that the more realistic the role playing, the more effective the psychodramatic effect will be on the perpetrator.
Psychodrama can also be an effective technique to teach young bullies to realize their unacceptable behavior and to correct such behavior with reverse role playing.
Counseling should also include reverse role playing as a technique for behavioral modification.
There is a Russian film by Nikita Mikhalkov that dramatizes the difficulty in coming up with a unaminous verdict until the jurors played out the alleged crime in role playing. This led to a unaminous verdict of “not guilty”.
The movie is a good illustration of how role playing can allow us to gain a deeper understanding of and perhaps a more in depth insight into an event.