Healing From Childhood Trauma with Psychodrama  

 A common general theme in psychodrama is the exploration of a past childhood trauma.  A psychodrama may conclude with a corrective reenactment of some aspect of the trauma but with a more satisfactory ending.  To elucidate this, assume there is a time when a child was abandoned by his mother.  A past scene of abandonment could be reenacted in psychodrama, but with an auxiliary playing the role of the good mother rather than the abandoning mother.  This might be thought of as an “inner child rescue” drama.  In speaking of the transference that occurs in psychoanalysis, Corey similarly describes effective therapy as requiring “that the client develop a relationship with the therapist in the present that is a corrective and integrative experience.” (Corey 76).  However, instead of the therapist being the “container” for the safe transference, a group member, acting in the role of the good mother, becomes the subject of the transference. 

Additionally, Corey indicates that “one of the central functions of analysis is to help clients acquire the freedom to love, work, and play.”  (Corey 73). Likewise, in psychodrama, the goal is to increase “spontaneity,” which can be thought of as a readiness for action. (Garcia and Buchanan, p. 171).  Moreno believed that our spontaneity is highest as infants, but decreases with age. (Garcia and Buchanan, p. 172).  People come into treatment because they lack spontaneity, which occurs when the don’t know what to do in a given situation in their lives, or cannot take action due to a paralysis of spontaneity. (Garcia and Buchanan, p. 172).  Again, in psychotherapy Corey describes the progression as going from talking, to catharsis, to insight. (2013, p. 79).  The hope is that this new intellectual and emotional understanding will lead to personality change. (Corey, p. 79).  Similarly, the classic psychodrama progresses from action to the catharsis of abreaction to the catharsis of integration. (Kellerman, p. 9).  In these ways, like psychoanalysis, psychodrama frequently addresses issues that develop in the first 6 years of life and throughout later stages of childhood development. 

Psychodrama Allows Participants to Resolve Adult Problems by Exploring Past Events 

It would be very difficult if not impossible to be involved in psychodrama without experiencing and healing from past events.  As Corey indicates, that “these projections, which have their origins in unfinished and repressed situations, are considered “grist for the mill,” and their analysis is the very essence of therapeutic work. (Corey 73).  Unfinished business is the most common form of drama that takes place in psychodrama therapy groups. 


Corey, Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 9th Edition (2013). 

Garcia and Buchanan, Psychodrama (2000), In P. Lewis & D. R. Johnson, Current Approaches to Drama Therapy, Ch. 9.  

Kellerman, The Place of Catharsis in Psychodrama, Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama and Sociometry, Vol. 37, no. 1, (1984).