Firing Synapses of Discovery for Military Justice

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No matter how often I train or participate in psychodrama, I continue to be delighted in its transformative powers.

I had the opportunity to participate in a program to receive 50 credit hours of training in psychodrama in October 2021.

There is something infinitely beautiful about the people and the process. Getting past the cognitive takes courage. And what lies beneath is the underbelly of hurt, pain, and trauma. Without it, many remain stuck. Does traditional talk therapy work for many? Sure.

But the psychodramatic process (for me and many) is richer, faster, if ever more probing and at times painful.

A vital component to its transformative character is the foundation of complete confidentiality. That confidentiality is the first step in allowing others to do deep sharing, to connect to the work of others, and to allow the vulnerability to wear the auxiliary roles without trepidation.

I recall doubting the benefits of auxiliary work. To be clear, work as an auxiliary is akin to serving in a supportive role to the leading man or lady. You are not the lead, known in psychodrama as the protagonist. To be chosen as an auxiliary is important because it means also there is trust. Playing an auxiliary antagonist can be particularly enriching. Going into the darkness of the source of another’s pain serves the protagonist by helping them understand layers beneath a cognitive appreciation for hurt.

Anyone who has ever played an antagonist or stood in the place of a person suffering the trauma knows the importance of the “de-role” process, which means stepping out of the role and leaving it behind. Being able to tap into the dark side of humanity tells the person playing the role quite a bit about their own psyche.

After the drama concludes and the participants step out of their roles, there is a process of sharing back to the protagonist about where each person who either observed or acted in the drama connects to their work. Often those connections to the work continue to fire and reverberate for hours, days, and even weeks.

I know that is true for me, and the synapses are still firing from the five-days’ work I was so honored to join.

There is something incredibly special about any psychodramatic work, and the energy from a group that truly puts its entire collective and individual hearts into it.

As we stood near the Moreno stage to bid our farewells, we are reminded that this group likely will never meet again in its identical composition. I daresay, even if we recreated the exact participants again, we will never be the same as we were that week. The change is profound, and I am honored to be part of this journey.

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