Created in the 30’s by Moreno, the psychodrama has, as a basis, the “role theory”, which is the group of imaginary positions assumed by the individual in his relationship with other people.

Moreno (1986, cited by Zimerman & Osorio, 1997) saw group therapy as a way of conscious treatment of the psychic problems and interpersonal relationships of group members. For that, he elaborated a dramatic representation with his patients, which had, as a central approach, the human conflicts. That way, he was able to merge body expression and non-verbal communication, with words.

This technique, centered on the role-playing, has its base in the next elements: scenery, protagonist, director, auxiliary ego, the public and the scene being represented. It’s important to understand that the psychodrama technique is different from the “dramatizations” used in other therapeutic processes.


What’s role-playing?

The role-playing, in a few words, is a “as if” kind of situation, in which the therapist and the patients take turns and assume and invert roles, in a way of decreasing the comprehension flaws that naturally arise in the psychotherapeutic environment. It also allows the imaginary anticipation of possible future events, as well as a way of dealing and reacting to them.

The dramatization of a previous session will allow a good observation of what happened there from a different angle or perspective and further help the individual to understand the material, situations or reactions, worked on by the group. On the other hand, the representation of a future session will allow him, to test his emerging attitudes and reactions beforehand.

Steps of Psychodrama

We can define a few steps in the psychodrama and the way it takes place over time. However, you need to keep in mind that these can change throughout the process.

1st Step – Dramatization

Duo technique, recognition of the differentiation between “me” and the “other”.

2nd Step – Recognition of himself

The protagonist joins the rest of the public, while someone else presents a representation of him, which will assume the function of his auxiliary ego.

3rd Step – Role inversion

The subject puts himself in others’ shoes taking conscience of them and developing empathy and respect for them.


ZIMERMAN, David E., OSORIO, Luiz Carlos & Col. (1997). Como Trabalhamos com Grupos. (How to work with groups) Porto Alegre: Artes Médicas.


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