Aug 05 2010

Victories of the Heart: My 2005 Psychodrama Training Outline

Special thanks to MKP leaders, David Karr, George Olson, Demetri Begli who provided training for me in psychodrama, then later Kurt Schultz and I which helped provide a foundation of knowledge for the creation of the Victories psychodrama training. Also thanks to the many Victories guys who helped with the early trainings. It was a really meaningful time.

Psychodrama Training

June 2005

I.  Training Goals

  1. The major focus of the training will be on teaching the theory and practice of “heartwork” or what is more commonly known as psychodrama. Participants will have the opportunity to facilitate, experience, and discuss “heartwork” as it is done on the Initial Weekends.
  2. Develop an understanding of each component of the Initial Weekend and how they are interrelated.
  3. Provide an overnight training experience similar to the Initial Weekend format for interested VOH individuals and groups to meet and build relationships.

     

    II.  Definitions and Descriptions

     

    Heartwork/Psychodrama

    This is another name for psychodrama, which is the use of role-playing and acting to explore and resolve conflicts. There are many ways to utilize psychodrama in the group. Our goal is to teach several methods which can be used easily and safely.

     

    Posture and Voice

    These are body-centered exercises key to creating an effective psychodrama. Men create the posture (body-language) and voice (the messages sent and heard) in situations of conflict.  For example, if a man feels criticized in a relationship with someone else, he might create a posture for the other person with a grim face and a finger pointing a threatening way.

     

    For himself, the posture may be him with his hands outstretched trying to block the message. The voices might be “you screwed up again” and “I wish you would stop criticizing me.” Posture and voice can serve as the foundation for deeper work in a psychodrama.

     

    Trust Circle

    The whole group stands in a circle, shoulders touching, in a power stance with their strongest foot forward, arms bent at the elbow, hands outstretched. A man steps into the center, keeping his body rigid as an oak board, allows himself to rock gently back and forth into the outstretched hands of the men in the outer circle. The man in the circle can keep his eyes open or closed. Those forming the circle gently guide the man back and forth and around the circle. During the process, the man can express any random thoughts, feelings, memories or other sensations he is experiencing. It is crucial for the men in the outer circle to remain stable, reliable support if the man in the middle is to build trust. Joking, sudden movements, not being in a power stance, can all create problems during this exercise.

     

     

    Energy circle

    The energy circle is set up exactly like the trust circle. Men circle around another man and place their hands on his back and shoulders as an offer of support. It can be helpful to encourage the man to feel the warmth from the men’s hands and also offer affirmations for the man in the circle. Men need to be conscious of their own and the man in the circle’s comfort level with touch to maintain feelings of safety.

     

     

    III.  Types of Psychodrama

     

    1. Cradle.  Men create a cradle where a man can be supported. Cradles are suggested to be done sitting or standing where all the men can be supported.  A cradle where men are lifted off the floor should be evaluated for any safety risks. A basic cradle is when two men hold a man in the beginning of a psychodrama to help energize the man to access, express and resolve deeper feelings.

     

    1. Ideal-father/mother.  Often used with a cradle, men select another man to play the role of the ideal father. Ideal father expresses message of love, support, affirmation that the man did not receive from his own father.

     

    1. Body-centered anger work. There are several ways to energetically access, express and resolve anger. One might use a large cushion, do role-playing, psychodrama, letter writing, or any other means to creatively deal with these complicated feelings. Safety is critical in this activity and safeguards need to be established clearly before any work is begun. Men are not to use other men as a way of creating physical restraint to access anger. Follow safety guidelines which recommend using floors, walls, large cushions, or other safe methods.

     

    1. Grief work.  The use of cloth (often black), role-playing or psychodrama to facilitate grieving.  Men identify a grief issue (death or other loss). The man is encouraged to speak directly from our heart and grieve.

     

    1. Parts Work. Used to help men identify both complementary and conflictual aspects of themselves in an effort to improve understanding and personal integration.

     

     

    IV.  Basic Steps

     

     

    1.       Establish rapport

    ·         Connect, accept, be open

     

    2.       Find out what the man wants to have happen

    ·         What do you want to have happen?

    ·         Is this anger work, grief work,etc?

    ·         Have you seen anything today that resembles what you want?

     

    3.       Pick the main players in the scene (mother, father, etc),  get them on the floor

    ·         Who are the main people in this scene

    ·         Where do you want them on the floor (closeness/distance)

    ·         How old were you when this happened

     

    4.       Voice: Setting up the psychodrama

    ·         What did this person say to you

    ·         What was the message you heard (slogan on a t-shirt, ex. “you’re worthless)

    ·         Optional to reverse roles and have participant play role of “father” and create the voice

    ·         Have the person playing the role rehearse the lines (voice of father/mother.etc)

     

    5.       Posture: Setting up the psychodrama

    ·         Be a sculptor and show this person’s body posture

    ·         What did they look and feel like to you

     

     

    6.       Run the process

    ·         Explore again if this is anger/grief/shame work

    ·         What is the end goal

    ·         Be ready to switch from anger to grief work to ideal father

     

    7.       Make sure the end of the work has positive meaning.

     

    8.       Identify the declaration

     

    9.       Staff provides stone and affirmation and supports man

     

    V.  Safety

     

    Safety is very important to observe in all of the exercises – not just physical safety but also psychological safety. When performing a physical exercise, make sure that all potential hazards are cleared. Do you have enough space? Is there a rug that could cause a man to slip and fall? Do you have any injuries or weaknesses? Make sure that glasses, watches and other jewelry are removed. Always consider the possible hazards and remove or at least reduce them.

     

    We suggest using sturdy walls, the floor, or something else as a way of creating physical restraint, rather than other men. Other men can be injured; walls and floors offer a man something he can control himself. If he has felt enough restraint, he can let go whenever he determines is the right time for him.

     

    As for psychological safety, that can be harder to judge, but if you feel that an exercise is doing more harm than good, do not be afraid to speak up. If you are the person in the “heart” and feel unsafe speak up. If you are not in the heart or participating in the exercise, first check in with the person leading the exercise and or the man in the “doing the work.” It is always better to err on the side of caution than to keep crashing ahead with something that could lead to disastrous results. Having said all of that, the exercises in this book are all tried and true methods that have been used successfully for many years, but…the phrase “famous last words” sometimes comes to mind

     

    VI.  Problems to avoid:

    rescuing 

    ·         asking too many questions, giving advice 

     

    derailing

    ·         the process by interrupting the man’s work with suggestions about what he should do if he gets stuck, rather than offering him some alternatives,

     chaos

    ·         where too many men are leading the process and it goes in different directions

    retraumatization

    ·         where a guy is forced to re-experience a traumatic life event where he feels as powerless and abused as he did during the original episode

     

     

    VI. Initial Weekend Components and how they are integrated

     

    The VOH Board and Leaders have been aware of the need for a leadership development program for some time. The Basic Staff Training is the first of a planned series of trainings to teach men skills to help them staff

     

     

    1. The major focus of the basic staff training is on teaching the theory and practice of “heartwork” or what is more commonly known as psychodrama. Participants will have the opportunity to facilitate, experience, and discuss “heartwork” as it is done on the Initial Weekends.

     

    1. Develop an understanding of each component of the Initial Weekend and how they are interrelated.

     

    1. Provide an overnight training experience similar to the Initial Weekend format for interested VOH individuals and groups to meet and build relationships.

     

     

     

     

     

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