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Sheri Degani, L.P.C.
Sol Herzig, Ph.D.
Sol and Sheri Demonstrate Psychodrama Techniques
In NJ-ACT Experiential Workshop
By Milton Spett & Lynn Mollick
On February 13 Sol Herzig and Sheri Degani explained and demonstrated psychodrama techniques that can be integrated into cognitive-behavioral therapy. These techniques can be utilized in individual therapy to help patients more fully understand and express their thoughts and feelings. Psychodrama techniques also help patients understand and empathize with the thoughts and feelings of significant others in their lives. Evoking patient’s thoughts and feelings makes these thoughts and feelings amenable to psychotherapeutic change.
Sol and Sheri emphasized that these techniques should be used only with patients who have a strong ego, and only after you understand the patient and have established a good therapeutic relationship. Here are some techniques that Sol and Sheri demonstrated with NJ-ACT volunteers:
Role Taking and Role Reversal
1. Pick a significant person you are having a conflict with and “express one significant thing that person would like to say to you.”
2. “How you would like to respond to that person.”
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until thoughts and feelings have been fully expressed.
Acting out both roles in a relationship enables patients to understand and change how they relate to significant others, and enables patients to understand how significant others experience them. These techniques also can elicit unexpressed irrational beliefs and expectations.
“Ideally, what would you like that significant person to say to you two years from now?”
“Ideally, how would you like to respond two years from now?”
“What could you say to this significant person now to take one small step toward your ideal future relationship?”
“If you said that, how would the person respond?”
The therapist stands behind the patient and summarizes the essence of what the patient is saying, going just a little deeper than the patient did. The therapist then says, “If you disagree with my summary, say so. If you agree, restate it in your own words.”
Selling Your Schema
According to Sol and Sheri, schemas are “maladaptive, ingrained, enduring patterns of viewing oneself in relation to others. People develop cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies to keep their schemas from becoming activated, thereby hoping to avoid the associated pain and conflict.”
In this psychodrama technique, the therapist takes the role of the maladaptive schema, and criticizes the patient as the schema does. The patient is then asked to argue against the schema. To assess schemas, Sol and Sheri recommended the Young-Atkinson Mode Inventory, which is available online at www.SchemaTherapy.com. This inventory can be downloaded and printed.
Other Psychodrama Techniques
Verbalize telling a member of your family of origin something you appreciate about them -- Tell that family member something you would like to be different.
Verbalize a letter telling a significant person in your life how you feel and what you want. This technique is particularly useful for addressing couple discord.
If the patient expresses unrelenting anger toward another person, ask the patient to act out saying to that person “One thing I really appreciate about you is….”
Psychodrama does not use the technique of disputation. Instead, the patients are asked questions designed to elicit their healthy psychological processes. In this manner, the patients dispute their own dysfunctional cognition
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