Ngm (new group member)Case

Analysis using the psychodramatic modality

The psychodramatic model is a collaborative approach, a teamwork concept utilizing group members and director to meet protagonists goals. It is problem focused emphasizing the present. In brief, the psychodramatic model follows three stages; stage one, the warm-up stage is when the director uses group data to warm the group for action, identifies common group themes, and a protagonist is selected to represent the most dominant topic. Stage two, action component, where by the protagonists conflicts are "acted out" with the assistance of group members playing auxiliary roles. Stage three, sharing and analysis stage. The analysis stage is usually held at the beginning of next group meeting.

Stage one:

In this case, ngm (new group member) was selected to represent the group theme of inadequacy. In ngm's case she was selected by the group to explore issues surrounding inadequacy. The director has seen ngm 3 times in individual therapy, and observed her during 4 group sessions, thus having some understanding of her presenting problem. The diagnoses that might be considered are social phobia, and an identity disorder. However, ruling out avoident-personality features is an area the director should keep in mind.

The director first establishes that ngm is 26, recently graduated from law school, feels comfortable with her parents, however she mentions that most of her life she has been following her parents directions at the expense of her interests. The director concretizes that a primary reason she felt the group to be helpful was due to her fear of being uncomfortable in social settings. This fear accompanied by her positive reaction toward this group suggests a direction that the director & protagonist need to test.

Stage two:

The first step would be to ask the protagonist "what area of inadequacy shall we explore this evening". Asking the protagonist a straightforward question will usually set the agenda for the session. In this case, she wants to look at her family and why the "good child" label is still with her. She also states that her parents would be very shocked to hear that she was attending group therapy.

Director has ngm develop and set a scene with the entire family --- asking her to define the situation for clarification to director and group. Questions asked are: where are we, what is taking place, at what age are you, define room and describe what is taking place in here, what time of day or evening, etc... To learn about the significant others in her life, auxiliary egos are selected from the group to play roles of mother, father, and her two sisters. To learn about each role the director has the protagonist role reverse with each significant other. The director interviews ngm in the role of mother, father, sister 1 and sister 2 so each auxiliary person has information to respond while in role. With this specific case the director should have a double for ngm. Usually, all auxiliaries are selected by the protagonist. The director (using data from intake, group data, etc., ) sets the situation to be this case the director has ngm initiate the conversation with a significant other, i.e. Dad, explaining that she is fearful of failing as an attorney.

The interaction between parents and siblings give the director and group a view of how ngm handles herself with significant others and how significant others handle her idea of forthcoming failure. The director has to conceptualize how her thinking influences her mood and behavior based on the data gathered. The director moves from situation to situation following the protagonist and keeping in mind the overall theme of inadequacy and ngm's question about why she never deviated from her parents wishes.

Once the director has explored the above one can move to situations involving comfort levels in social situations. (More than likely this theme will emerge from the scenes with significant other, however the director should complete the initial agreement with protagonist before moving on). Have protagonist define the situation and let ngm set up the scene as illustrated above. Using techniques of role reversal, doubling, and interview in role reverse the director and group can gain a clearer understanding of ngm. Director and group members see her thinking pattern and behavioral response in anxious social settings.

Depending on the information gained from these two situations the director may then decide to move on to the attraction issue or perhaps the behavioral data suggests that such an issue should be delayed for another group session.

The action of the session cuts through verbal denial and helps the ngm focus on underlying issues. The use of action permits the protagonist to take control of their situation and effect positive change. It gives the protagonist a chance to see how they respond to events, thinking patterns and behaviors in their life. They can then make concrete, conscious decisions about how they want to change and can practice these new behaviors in the safe, supportive environment of the group.

Stage three:

The last psychodramatic stage is sharing and analysis. The protagonist listens to life situations that group members experienced regarding the basic theme and share with group members. De-roling of auxiliaries, that is, having the opportunity to express cognitively, behaviorally and feelings that were attached to the role they enacted. The "in role" sharing is important to the protagonist and group allowing the auxiliary time to re-integrate and be themselves. This gives the protagonist a chance to hear what that role was like as perceived by another. Analysis is usually not incorporated at the phase, but reserved for the beginning of the next group session. The analysis or processing becomes the Warm-up of the next session.