Therapist Congruence, Psychotherapy and Psychodrama

Congruence is the term used by Rodgers to describe a therapeutic relationship where the presents him or herself without pretense. (Rogers 1961). A therapist is in a state of congruence when there is an “accurate matching of experience with awareness” (Rodgers 1961). The therapist is “at one” with their feelings and has the freedom to express these genuinely to the client in those limited circumstances where it is appropriate.

Rogers believes essentially that happiness, or being well-adjusted, is a function of congruence, i.e., the more congruent a person’s experiences and self-image, the better.  On other hand, when a person does not live up to their potential, they are not in a state of congruence, i.e., there is an incongruence between the two (Krauss 92).

J.L. Moreno, who developed psychodrama, believed that a person was most fully realized when they are in the highest state of spontaneity and creativity. Moreno did not believe that all behavior was pathological – instead, he believed that roles could be dysfunctional, or to put it in Roger’s terms, there was a lack of congruence in a person’s roles.

For any particular individual, according to Moreno, roles may be undeveloped, or imbalanced, or overdeveloped and the person may be suffering because of a lack of sufficient spontaneity – the ability to respond to a new situation adequately or an old situation with novelty –  and creativity to change existing roles or develop new roles.  By analyzing current roles and assisting a person via psychodrama to try out, execute and then later make new roles his own, Moreno believed he could assist people in removing blocks to spontaneity/creativity that lead to the role-dysfunction begin with.

Rogers believed that this incongruence could have its origin in a person’s past, such as when a child’s parents are harshly critical.  The goal of a therapist in this context would be to “counteract the problems caused by conditions of worth in childhood.” (Krauss 93). This same event might be viewed in psychodrama as a spontaneity block.  Once these past negative messages are dealt with, the block is removed, and the person can then bring increased spontaneity to the effected role.

Hamachi (2002) has also concluded that “treatment with an integrated approach, using psychodrama and CBT, leads to decreases in cognitive distortions related to avoidance intimacy, unrealistic relationships expectancy and mind reading.  He concluded that the combination of psychodrama and CBT can lead to significant reductions in cognitive distortions related to relationships.”

References:

Hamachi, The effect of Integrating Psychodrama and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on Reducing Cognitive Distortions in Interpersonal Relationships, Journal of Group Psychotherapy Psychodrama & Sociometry (2002).

Hamachi, Integrating psychodrama and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat moderate depression, The Arts in Psychotherapy 33 (2006) 199–207.

Krauss, Whitbourne, S., Halgin, Richard. Abnormal Psychology: Clinical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders with DSM-5 Update. 2013.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. London: Constable.

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Patrick T. Barone is a Michigan criminal defense trial lawyer and co-founder of the Michigan Psychodrama Center. He is a Board Certified Trainer, Educator and Practitioner of Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy. He is also a Board Certified Psychodrama Trainer. Patrick has applied his psychodrama training in his criminal law practice and when teaching law and trial skills. He also has used sociodrama, an adjunct form of psychodrama in the business environment and Bibliodrama in the faith setting. He is the author of a chapter entitled Bringing Scripture to Life with Bibliodrama for Adam Blatner’s book entitled Action Explorations: Using Psychodramatic Methods in Non-Therapeutic Settings , (Paralax Productions, February 23, 2019). In his capacity as a business consultant, Mr. Barone has worked with business owners and executives in businesses of all sizes throughout Michigan. Additionally, Mr. Barone continues to practice law and is the founding partner and CEO at the Barone Defense Firm.