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Insight Improvisation: Integrating Mindfulness and Meditation with Drama Therapy
by Joel Gluck, MEd, RDT/BCT, CIIP/CT

This page contains passages from the Insight Improv chapter in Current Approaches that for length and readability were omitted prior to manuscript submission and/or publication. In addition, links to helpful resources appear at the end of this page.

Combining Psolodrama with Other Forms

Once a client is practiced in psolodrama, the technique can be combined with other forms of drama therapy or creative arts therapy. Two examples:

  • Psychodrama. The therapist begins to work on the client’s presenting issue using psychodrama, directing the client in taking on a role, reversing roles, doubling, etc. At a certain point in the drama it becomes evident that the client is entering a place of the unknown—the next step is unclear—and the therapist invites him to close his eyes, follow his body, and see what happens next. The therapist says: “This is your drama. You can do whatever you like. Follow your instincts.” From this point on, the client is the psoloist, and the therapist simply witnesses, usually no longer offering direction. Often this approach leads to unexpected roles and scenes, allowing the therapist to see where the client’s authentic impulses lead him; the client gets to take greater ownership of his own drama, and continue his developmental process of learning to listen to and trust his own impulses.
  • Visual art. A client brings in a collage or some other form of visual art she has made. Client and therapist discuss the art, the therapist learning about the different emotions/characters/energies/themes it depicts. The therapist invites her to improvise, allowing the roles or themes in her art to emerge, perhaps as characters in a role stream; those characters begin to dialogue with one another in scene stream. As in the typical entryway progression, the scene stream then becomes a launching off point into psolodrama.

In neither of these examples is the client “entering empty;” neither is pure psolodrama. But the resultant improvisation has many of the same features as psolodrama: the client is on her own journey, following her own authentic impulse to discover what needs to be expressed or explored. To do so she can access the tools of psychodrama such as role reversal and the various psychodramatic roles. And by relinquishing control the therapist confers on the client a greater sense of autonomy.

The cross-pollination between psolodrama and other expressive techniques can go in the opposite direction as well. For example, one can use psychodramatic techniques to support, deepen, or extend a psolodrama. Recently I asked a client during her psolodrama if I could enter the drama and double her (that is, become the double of a character she was playing in her improvisation), as I sensed an opportunity to share what I intuited was her deeper emotional truth in that moment. That intervention helped her discover something new about the personal relationship patterns she had felt stuck in. Similarly, in the sharing process after psolodrama, the therapist can suggest further exploring a role, relationship, or theme that arose in the client's psolodrama, using psychodrama. Using visual arts, one could follow a psolodrama with an opportunity for the client to do some spontaneous drawing based on their experience, and then bring that art work into the sharing process with the therapist, who could use art therapy techniques to work with the drawing.

Further Reading Online

For those interested in learning more about Insight Improvisation, the following resources are available for free:

  • A draft of the Insight Improv Book is available for downloading as a PDF.
  • Psolodrama in Brief is a two page handout summarizing the practice of psolodrama.
  • You can also read about Insight Improv programs, the schedule of upcoming events and trainings, and how to become certified as an Insight Improv therapist or trainer.

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