An entire textbook chapter, by Adam Blatner, MD; about psychodrama is also available online.
Simply stated, psychodrama is an active alternative to traditional talk therapy in which the client ‘shows’ the therapist what is going on in their life, rather than ‘telling’ the therapist about it. The ‘showing’ is done by having the client set up scenes, re-enact conversations or events from the past, or take on the role of important others in their lives. Psychodrama is typically done in a group setting, although many psychodramatic techniques or exercises can be done in 1:1 sessions.
The primary purpose of psychodrama is to restore an individual’s creativity and spontaneity which allows them to begin producing more effective responses to old situations and to resume producing adequate responses to new situations. When our creativity and spontaneity are down, we just keep doing the same things over and over and psychodrama functions to help people break out of unsuccessful patterns of behavior.
Dr. Marlo routinely uses psychodramatic techniques in individual sessions and will ask, each time, if the client feels comfortable trying the action methods. It is absolutely acceptable to decline. It is her experience that many individuals have so completely lost their spontaneity that the action methods can be somewhat intimidating at first, until creativity and spontaneity return. Use of these methods will be brought into therapy slowly, as tolerated, where appropriate, and may not be used with every client.