Humanistic and Classical Psychodrama

Humanistic Psychodrama – Humanistic Psychodrama – The meaning of the group – The meaning of the protagonist

Video 1Video 2

Humanistic Psychodrama – Humanistic Psychodrama – Catharsis in Classical Psychodrama – The Protagonist Game

Video 3Video 4

The Beginning of the Humanistic – The Scene Construction in the Humanistic – Psychodrama in the Water Castle – Psychodrama – The Role Swap with the Father – Bergerhausen – The girls’ home

Video 5Video 6

The Construction of Scenes in Humanistic Humanistic Psychodrama – Sociometrical Psychodrama – The role reversal with the mother – Choice of the protagonist

Video 7Video 8

Humanistic Psychodrama – Charter of advanced training

Advanced Training – Overview

The Psychotherapeutic Insititute Bergerhausen under the management of Hans-Werner Gessmann follows Moreno in his core concept of integrating interactional reality and biographically determined autonomy of the individual and emphasizes the unity of both elements in therapeutic work.

Interactional reality means that sociality becomes true commonality, at the same time creating a social reality that deeply determines the individual in within the situation. As the individual co-creates situational reality, it becomes more than just an other-directed object. Interactional reality can be understood as a function of a creational process towards a kind of commonality. The individual can, however, never be seen as a pure, individuality that exclusively belong to him alone, but always in the current, creative design of his individual biography that is directed towards a certain social situation.

The Psychotherapeutic Insititute Bergerhausen under the management of Hans-Werner Gessmann follows Moreno in his core concept of integrating interactional reality and biographically determined autonomy of the individual and emphasizes the unity of both elements in therapeutic work.

Interactional reality means that sociality becomes true commonality, at the same time creating a social reality that deeply determines the individual in within the situation. As the individual co-creates situational reality, it becomes more than just an other-directed object. Interactional reality can be understood as a function of a creational process towards a kind of commonality. The individual can, however, never be seen as a pure, individuality that exclusively belong to him alone, but always in the current, creative design of his individual biography that is directed towards a certain social situation.

Sociality, however, has not only a material value that enables the individual to express himself in a social context, but it is an active factor itself that, together with individual biographical proportions, creates interactional reality. This situation is called expressive state. It serves as the base for psychodrama therapy and en ables therapeutically guided work with the expressive state.

The expressive state sets in when people come together and the lower the official part of the situation is, the higher is its degree of openness. It includes many different factors, such as: the situation’s societal and cultural conditions, spatial and temporal circumstances and especially biographical individual shares of those involved.

Every interactional situation manifests as an integration of social and individual-psychological shares. An expressive state is created that, depending on its compounding conditions and factors, can be rather flexible or rather encrusted.

Humanistic Psychodrama, at this point, starts with an active and integrative process in the encounter of people. Due to the many group-therapeutic experiences with psychodrama, methods have been developed that support the formation of a group with an open expressive state, that can incorporate other, or more biographical parts that are possible for the participants in their normal life.

Together with their therapist and based on their interaction with each other, the members of the group create a therapy situation that provides an extended space for experience and action for the individual. Based on that, therapeutical forms of theater and role play are used to intensively shape the experiences, memories and desires that have surfaced during the group’s interaction and to develop and experience them in the context of the current expressive state.

Humanistic psychodrama has only briefly been touched upon in terms of theory and practice and some important thoughts have been outlined. It is based on the works of Jakob Levy Moreno and has also incorporated newer psychotherapeutic developments.

At the same time humanistic psychodrama relates to the therapeutic experiences of humanistic psychology. Humanistic psychology wants to provide a scope of action and experience for the individual that is based on shared social experiences and that aims to enable the individual to unfold his spiritual and mental potential in his social reality. The therapeutic play within the group, offers the possibility to realize both contents in therapy, resulting in a healing and resolving experience.

Humanistic psychodrama as a form of therapy can be applied in special therapeutical groups, but can also be realized as a method within „life groups“. Thus, psychodramatic methods can be used in stationary institutions, homes, therapeutical communities and in special outpatient patient groups. Humanistic psychodrama has also proven itself in child therapy, gerontological therapy and addiction therapy.

Apart from these psychotherapeutic fields of work it has also succeeded as a accompanying methods for self-awareness work, supervision and as a pedagogical instrument. Depending on its area of application, such as staff development and manager training, psychodrama has undergone certain changes, without losing its core values.

Training as a Psychodrama-Assistent

The advanced training program „Psychodrama Assistant“ includes an introduction into humanistic psychodrama. The participants of a self-awareness group are being familiarized with the structure of psychodrama groups. In this group they learn how to handle to specific diagnostic and therapeutic methods of psychodrama. They are empowered to apply the methods of psychodrama within the context of their own sociality and biography and to adjust their therapeutical work to the group and to every single member of this group and at the same time realize their limits that are posed by their current level of knowledge.

In the accompanying practical part of the training and also in the supervision part, the participants are supposed to transfer their psychodramatical knowledge onto their work experiences and reflect upon those topics within the group.

Psychodrama as a form of therapy and a method of self-awareness is always strongly bound to its practical realization that already takes place during the advanced training for the „Psychodrama Assistant“. The advanced training takes place in self-awareness groups that are the vehicle for gaining relevant practical knowledge. This very practically oriented work is being reflected upon conceptually and systematically in theoretical seminars and displayed in a overarching psychological context.

Advanced Training – Goals

The advanced training aims at:

Enabling the participants to work as an assistant of a psychodrama therapist in psychodrama groups

Lead groups psychodramatically that work with self-awareness and/or themed contents

Developing conflictual experiences, attitudes and behavioral patterns from one’s own biography and socialization and to change, if necessary, one’s own beliefs.

Mastering the psychodrama’s therapeutic and diagnostic methods and being able to apply them to groups.

Tackle problems with a psychodramatic approach, plan their analysis and develop methodological problem solving strategies

Master knowledge about psychological diagnostics, group development and personality psychology that is relevant for psychodrama and to be able to apply this knowledge in psychodramatical practice.

Studying psychodramatical terminology, hypotheses, and models with regard to specific methodological critique.

Advanced Training – Requirements

  1. The admission to the advanced training in psychodrama requires in general a completed apprenticeship, occupation or university degree that are textually related to working with people. The professional range reaches from medical, psychological, social, school educational and theological to nursing professions.

2. The applicant should have some experience in psychodramatic group work or other therapeutic groups.

3. The motivation that drives the participant to take this advanced training course is vital. It is absolutely central to the selection process and can be
    decisive in exceptional cases.


The application for the advanced training needs to be handed in in written form. Please send it to the office of the PIB GmbH.

Please hand in the following documents:

– personal data sheet

– passport photo

– letter of motivation

– certificates of your school and professional career (copies)

The applicant will be invited to an interview. The decision about the applicant’s admission to the advanced training will be made by the examination board of the institute.

The focus of the advanced training in humanistic psychodrama is the acquisition of competence in therapeutic acting. The base consists of psychodramatic diagnostics and methods. Consequently, the advanced training is very practically oriented.

The advanced training takes place in an experience group that serves as the environment that allows them participants to learn essential therapeutic contents of psychodrama within in the frame of their current social and psychological situation. Content of the advanced training are never solely presented in an abstract manner but rather taught with by taking into account one’s own self-awareness.

The advanced training takes place as tangible therapeutic work that is complemented by systematic phases of reflection and is brought back to the reality of the self-awareness group through exercise sequences. The course makes sure to integrate professional and private experiences of the participants into the advanced training.

Every pschodramatic method and concept of action is therefor practiced within the current group situation, that requires the application of these concepts and methods, making sure, the advanced training remains related to practice.

In order to also warrant this practical relevance outside the advanced training group, a supervision is required that enables the participants to gain additional knowledge. These experiences are being documented and studied in the supervision group. This practically oriented learning method that is based on awareness is complemented by theory sessions that allow for a theoretical reflection of the course’s contents and their systematic development. These theoretical sessions are not merely restricted to humanistic psychodrama but they also include distinctions from and similarities to other forms of therapy.

As the contents of the advanced training feed on the current situational developments within the group, the teaching methods complicate the determination of a fixed cycle of advanced training with a single topic for every lesson. Nevertheless, there are possibilities and the need to plan the basic topical course of the advanced training.

Advanced Training – Structure 

The advanced training takes two years to complete. In this period the participants personally work on psychodrama in order to obtain the desired qualification. The advanced training consists of 208 practical lessons, 32 supervision lessons and different theory seminars.

In order not to interrupt the learning process of the group and the participants, an continuous participation in all sessions is required. Participants are allowed to be absent with a valid excuse from a maximum of 32 session. Further absence is not permitted and results in the termination of the advanced training.

Possible topics for theory sessions

    • History and development of group psychotherapy and psychodrama
    • Structural and methodological basics of humanistic psychodrama
    • Philosophical and psychological principles of psychodrama
    • Sociometry and group processes
    • Concepts of interaction and communication
    • Role-theories in humanistic psychodrama


After completing the advanced training over the course of 13 practical weekends and after completing the supervision work, the final exam can be taken, resulting in the certificate of „Psychodrama Assistant“. The exam is practical and takes place in the group of the advanced training participants. The theoretical exam consists of a written term paper. The participant will receive a report detailing the results of their exams and a certificate for the successful completion of the advanced training. (For further information, please read the exam regulations).

Humanistic Psychodrama

Hans-Werner Gessmann

In 1980 Hilarion Petzold classified psychodrama as a method of the humanistic psychology. In his opinion, psychodrama could be called the oldest method of humanistic psychotherapy. Furthermore, Moreno could be seen as the creator of psychodrama itself and also as doyen and the most important pioneer of this movement. The most important concepts of humanist psychology had been developed by Moreno in the twenties and thirties of the 20th century – long before Rogers, Perls, and Maslow and many others of the “third power” created their ideas and procedures. On the one hand it is, in fact, true that Moreno was a precursor and inspirer for some of those protagonists, but on the other hand, he never explicitly saw himself as part of the emerging school of humanistic psychology. He was more interested in establishing the “Moreno-Psychodrama” as an independent method for group-psychotherapy, especially in distinction to psychoanalysis. In 1966 he called his pioneering work in psychological group work “Third psychiatric revolution”. He didn’t want humanistic psychology to be “the third power” but rather his psychodrama, his sociatry. The process of creating a psychological movement through the integration of J.L. Moreno’s thoughts was impeded by his personality and the traits that came with it, such as the want for authenticity, authorship, and prophetism. For me, it seems that he didn’t even want that. In his late works, he developed a religious, cosmological Ideology. In 1959 he writes: “The new values are of a cosmo-dynamical nature. New life forces will flow to humans due to their connection with the cosmos.” (Moreno, S.8)

The classical psychodrama of Moreno, which, in Germany is represented mainly by Grete Leutz, has meanwhile been revamped and further refined. Heike Straub, a disciple of Moreno, created a first variation of the original setting, as she incorporated more group dynamical procedures from other psychotherapies into the psychodrama. Psychodrama methods have been used in many different psychoanalytical therapies over and over. Adolf Friedemann in Switzerland, Serge Lebovici in France and from 1950 on Didier Anzieu, Basquin, Widlöcher, and others have used psychodrama in a, to some extent, quite conventional-psychanalytical concept. Erdmann and Henne see similarities between Moreno’s psychodrama and the analytical psychology of C.G. Jung, especially when it comes to the goal of the therapeutic events: One’s own essence is to be discovered in its entireness. Furthermore, one’s own self is to be encountered and individual autonomy and sociality are to be extended in the process. Alfred Adler and J.L. Moreno combine social phenomena in ways that therapists and disciples of Adler, such as Ansbacher, Ackermann, Corsini, and Dreikurs started practicing psychodramatic methods without falling back on Moreno’s theoretical concepts. Behavioral-therapeutical role plays have been deduced from Moreno’s interventional-sociometric practices by Zander and Lipitt as early as in the 1940s. Since then role plays have been used to acquire the desired behavior. Furthermore, role plays have gained more importance under the influence of cognitive behavioral therapy and Lazarus’s multimodal approach. From 1969 on Petzold has tried to connect psychodrama and behavioral therapy. He saw his so-called “Behaviordrama” as a further specification of the behavioral therapeutic elements within the psychodrama and wanted to expose its psychoanalytical elements (Petzold in Völker, S.211). The quadripartite psychodrama is supposed to integrate different psychodramatic tendencies. Schützenberger tries to unite the theories of Freud, Moreno, and Lewin with the help of Roger’s humanistic psychological approaches. Their theoretical formulations remain confused whereat one can see that they made an effort to create an integrative psychodrama therapy. Petzold has subsequently, as he put it, developed the building blocks for an integrative drama therapy and thus founded the quadripartite psychodrama. He achieved this by combining Moreno`s psychodrama and Iljine`s therapeutical theater with gestalt and movement therapy. An initial phase is succeeded by an action phase which again is followed by an integration phase that concludes with a phase of reorientation. He actually didn’t do much more than simply take the classical drama from the antiquity with its phases of Protasis, Peripeteia, and Lysis, the phase of learning new behavioral patterns and add a role play training to it.

The humanistic psychodrama is a new form of psychodrama. After a return to Moreno`s original thoughts, the humanistic psychodrama was subject to a reformulation of ideas and theories. Which referred to Moreno’s concepts and also to newly gained insights from the very intense practical experiences in humanistic psychodrama that were made from 1980 until today. Due to its integration into humanistic psychology, it became necessary to reevaluate and redescribe its goals and methods.

The individual human responsibility for himself and the community has become the center of attention. The goal of self-realization is pursued with the help of the group.

Humanistic psychology’s idea of man is adopted:

  • The belief in the individual’s possibilities of personal growth and self- realization
  • One’s own acceptance and the acceptance of the members of the group
  • Hope and responsibility for a humane life on earth
  • Renouncing absolute claim to truth and authority

Every single human being is autonomous and at the same time socially involved. It is responsible for its life.

This means that in humanistic psychodrama the individual, in its social environment, is seen as able to learn and develop itself further and is also encouraged to do so. As a consequence, the therapist must not relieve the individual from its responsibility by “curing” it from the outside, but rather. Instead, the therapist is ought to encourage his patient to explore himself, to define goals and try to reach them. The personal responsibility remains on the client side. During the therapeutic process, the client becomes aware of his capability to chose and make decisions and that he alone is responsible for their outcomes. He chooses, for example, the topic and the scene he wants to work on. Furthermore, he selects the individual member of the group for the therapeutic work. Additionally, every member of a humanistic psychodrama-group determines how much he is willing to share and work on with the group. The therapist has the professional qualification to support the change process. Psychodramitcal work is based on the individual’s expression in the group and this expression is fostered by the group. Therefore, the group, apart from the relationship between the therapist and his client, is of utmost importance, as it makes the whole process of expression work possible by serving as an auxiliary ego or as a double.

With the help of the therapist, the protagonist sets up a play that illustrates the conflictual manner of experiencing and processing (difficult) situations. At the same time, the protagonist and his topic represent thematic proportions of the other group members. The protagonist play is preceded by a warming-up phase at the beginning of the group session. This enables the members of the group to find their topic and introduce it to the group process so that a common level of expression can be created. The warming-up phase is concluded by the sociometric election. The group chooses its protagonist. The choice of the protagonist as a sociometric and thematical manifestation is more or less determined by more or lesser known thematical proportions of the group members. Furthermore, thematical and sociometric connections that have previously been created in the warming-up phase now manifest themselves in the choice of the protagonist. The group-process focusses on a common subject, which is bound to one of the group members. The group’s attention is thereby bundled. Hence, choosing a protagonist is a solidifying concentration of each group member’s own thematical proportions. The following play represents an intensive form of communication within the group and plays a vital part in forming congruent relationship structures within the group. The display and design of the protagonist always serve as a describing “conversation” with the group. The group participates play-immanently in the “conversation” in the form of an auxiliary ego, a double or in the following phase of “sharing”. It is important which group member is chosen as an auxiliary ego by the protagonist. The choice is not arbitrary but rather based on a relationship that contains an emotional and content-related connection between the protagonist’s current biographical emotional state and the group’s sociometric topicality. That means the relationships within the group do not merely serve as a foundation of the play but become a part of it as well.

The participators and the therapist support the protagonist in displaying his subjectively experienced truth and experience. The other participator’s, in their role as auxiliary ego or double, should not improvise, but rather adopt the protagonist’s view through this role reversal and shape it according to his interpretation of the role. The protagonist set’s the frame of the role by initially substantiating the role of the auxiliary ego in a role reversal. That way he introduces the other participators into his conceptual world so that they can later emphatically shape it on his behalf. For the protagonist, this creates a consistent feeling of realizing himself to an ideal degree. He becomes the center, the most important person in his own world and he creates his own authority and competence. He starts to act freely and to structure his world more efficiently in a creative way. Apart from persons from the protagonist’s social environment, group members, in their role as auxiliary ego, can also represent thoughts, imaginations, and feelings. This enables the protagonist to take a step back an look at these thoughts, imaginations, and feelings from a distance and to work with them, modify them or distance himself from them.

By creating his world on the stage the protagonist can discover new aspects of his life that until now had a different significance or were missing completely. Through the display of his inner thoughts, imaginations, and phantasies and their externalization by the acting auxiliary egos, the protagonist establishes a meaningful context that allows him to part from old constructions of reality or change them altogether. This process also enables the protagonist to create a more appropriate interpretation of his world.

Although every member of the group is asked to act as a double, it is up to them if and how often they participate. Within an emancipatory balance of giving and taking, this is a longer process for every member of the group. Through observation and trying, this process results in a realization that dedication for others brings personal independence and is a huge enrichment. Furthermore, in the group process, it becomes clear that it is satisfying and valuable to accept and understand others, to be close to them, to matter to them as a person, and to walk one’s path alongside them.

The more a group member acts as a double, the better it learns to empathically understand other people. This reduces social anxieties in the group, but also in everyday situations. An “active” group member has, in his participation in psychodrama work, experienced many roles and confidently knows how to handle them. This veteran group member is not an alien anymore but can communicate itself and knows how to find a way to mutual understanding. As a consequence, the willingness grows to accept and appreciate the members of the group and other people in the social environment as they are and to see them within the scope of their possibilities and limitations.

The fundamental intention of humanistic psychodrama lies in the enabling and support of the group members’ independent development within the group context. All psychodramatic method are subject to this goal. They relate to the member of the group, the group as a whole and focus on the protagonist as the representative of the group. The members of the group determine the content and the extent of their activity which is only limited by the group’s social reality.

Advocates of the humanistic psychodrama believe that humans have an innate natural desire to grow and for self-actualization. 

In the therapeutic process, this desire can be drawn on. It gives the therapist and the group members non-judgemental, relaxed confidence in the progress of the therapeutical process and in the client, integrated into his social environment, to find himself by himself.

Following humanistic psychology, humanistic psychodrama also propagates a positive image of the human being as creative and inventive. This is true in regard to individual development, as well as for the constructive and creative analysis of relationships with other people. The human being as a living organism is active and strives to develop his creative skills. Tendencies towards self-actualization are basic driving forces of the organism that, in constant exchange with its environment and under beneficial circumstances, further develop and differentiate existing skills. The human organism aims at self-actualization, values, meaning, goals, its tendency towards a “good gestalt” and towards crossing borders. It is intent on self-actualization and holistic growth and a feature of human existence. In principle, every human being possesses the ability to develop his personality, behavior, and experience processualy. The self is in a continual process of change and development.

Self-awareness and self-actualization are crucial aspects of the therapeutic process of the humanistic psychodrama. For the member of the group, subjective experiences, feelings, thoughts, and his own experiences are always the starting point for change or re-orientation in his experience and behavior towards more happiness and self-acceptance.  At the same time, these aspects are always ys subject to his social reality. In the practical therapeutical work, analyzing the individual’s biography is very closely connected to the sociometry of the group. By striking a balance between personal and social identity, the individual dual is able to develop true happiness. Self-esteem is created, when one can realize his desire for self-respect and social appreciation.

The group therapeutic approach in the humanistic psychodrama, therefore, offers good prerequisites and possibilities for each member of the group to strike a balance between personal and social parts of the self and to realize them.

Everything that happens psychologically is targeted and meaningful. 

The quest for meaning and fulfillment, even beyond one’s own existence, is to be regarded a the essential motivation of humans. Following psychodrama therapy, this motivation can trigger the analysis and improvement of relationships with people in one’s social environment. As only in interaction and communication with his fellow human beings can the individual expand and change his experience and view of life.

The human being can only be understood as a holistic being, as an acting subject in its social environment.

Humanistic psychodrama does not treat singular disorders but put the human being as a whole, with his individual view of life, into the center of the transformation process. He is the point of reference for the therapist and his methods, as well as for the members of the group. At the same time, humanistic values, such as independence, justice, and human dignity are part of the therapist’s stance and methods and they serve the formation of norms within the group.

In humanistic psychodrama, the aspect of holism is important on many levels:

On the individual level, it refers to the human being as a psychophysical entity. The human being is, in regard to its thoughts, feelings, and body a single entity. On the one hand, the individual is a unity of body, soul, and spirit and on the other hand as a unity of human and environment. In the psychodrama, the subjective world of the participators exists with all its human facets. Holism also includes the whole spectrum of individual topics. Not the treatment of single disorders, but the human being as a whole and its individual view of life are the center of psychodrama.

At the same time, the aspect of holism incorporates the social relatedness of the human being – the human being is seen as a psycho-physical social being. As a form of group therapeutic procedure, the humanistic psychodrama disposes, due to its group-reality, of an included criterion of reality. For the individual, the group is a counterpart that can be talked to and is affected by its problems, feelings an messages. Within the group, intense communication processes take place and therefore the individual’s social constitution is addressed.

In the therapeutic process, holism also affects the way of the therapeutical approach i.e. psychodrama is no “talking cure”, it is not exclusively focussed on talking alone and is not binary. Within the boundaries of its basic structure psychodrama is open for a variety of methods.

Psychodrama is far less designed for analysis as it is for integration. Conflicts are not only based on scenes/origin-scenes from the past but are always currently updated and self-constructed topics. They are located in the here and now.

Humanistic psychodrama takes place in the here and now. 

For many people it is easier to live in the past or in the future instead of the present. As a result, their “real life” has either already happened in the past or is still to come in the future. That’s why they avoid current topics of their life instead of developing their potential. An important goal of humanistic psychodrama therapy consists of focussing on the present. Humanistic psychodrama takes place in the here and now, without taking into account whether the topic is expressed in a scene from the past, the present or the future. It can even be represented in a scene that has no connection the reality. The here and now needs to be understood as an entity of past, present, and future, as the meaning of the present is a result of the things experienced in the past and the knowledge about the possibilities of the future.

The therapist’s task is to make sure that the protagonist, as well as the auxiliary egos in the scene, stay in their roles in the here and now, instead of doing metacommunication by talking about how the scene happened in the past or how it might probably happen in the future. The therapist helps the protagonist to find out, which topic becomes prominent and which current feelings and needs it is connected to. The protagonist is supposed to experience “what” he perceives when his heart rate is increasing or when he changes into another posture or when some of his feelings change. He is supposed to comprehend “how” this came to be and what meaning he bestows upon his perception in regard to his current topic.

The humanistic psychodrama’s non-directive basic approach guided by empathy, appreciation, and congruity. 

The humanistic psychodrama shows, especially in regard to the therapist’s attitude and stance, evident similarities to the conceptual world of C.R. Rogers. What Rogers called the person-centered approach is called the protagonist-centered approach in the humanistic psychodrama.

The therapist within the humanistic psychodrama is guided by the demand or rather the emotional experience of the protagonist. The therapist is furthermore responsible to shape the protagonist’s topic in his subjective reality. Here the therapist is supposed to act as non-directive as possible and work with the “material” that the protagonist provides. In the therapeutical setting, the therapist is not supposed to force anything upon the protagonist that has not been provided by the protagonist or originate in his experience. If the therapist, a double or an auxiliary ego introduces aspects that have been formulated on the basis of his intuition or experience then they should be formulated as an offer or a question. The protagonist can then decide whether he wants to include the aspect into the therapeutic process or reject it. For this part, it is necessary that the therapist, as well as the members of the group, treat the protagonist with a high degree of empathy. That means that they behave in an empathic and not in a judgemental way. Ideally, the therapist and the group empathize with the protagonist in a way that allows them to comprehend his emotions in as much detail as possible and experience them losing their identity and their distance to the protagonist and his topic. In the course of this process, they do not have to approve the things the protagonist expresses but accept his individual features without prejudice and judgment.

Following his humanistic attitude, the therapist needs to avoid the creation of a pronounced therapist-client-hierarchy. The therapist in humanistic psychodrama is congruent – with himself. He does not fear the mutli-layered facets of his own feelings and attitudes but is rather aware of them and. He may also express these feelings and attitudes but this does not mean that he shares them, unchecked, with the protagonist. He is rather supposed to express what he deems helpful for the development of the protagonist in a transparent and appropriate way. Therefore, the therapist creates an honest intrahuman interaction where differences such as the level of education or the amount of knowledge are of secondary importance.

This kind of relationship is beneficial to the therapist and the members of the group alike, as both parties gain a lot through the ensuing development and learning.

Apart from the emphasis on the humanistic approach, the humanistic psychodrama’s special focus on the group-therapeutic approach requires certain attitudes from the therapist.

  • Respect for the individuality in its social responsibility helps to create a trustful atmosphere within the group
  • Respecting to organical development of a group process oriented supervision
  • The use of different psychodramatic methods by the therapist

The topics of the individual, the other and the group in humanistic psychodrama


Just like in everyday life, communication and interaction in humanistic psychodrama groups are not abstract but rather revolve around certain topics. In the warm-up phase, group members have the opportunity to approach and substantiate a psychodynamic topic within the group or their own topic that pertains to their inner psychic and social context outside the group. In the course of this process, a link is being established between different group members that enables them, by a sociometric election procedure, to choose the topic or a person that most interests them and which they would like to work with. During the processing phase, the group members elect a protagonist for the play. They choose the topic, that interests them the most and that represents the group’s topic. This approach has the advantage that it raises the group’s motivation to work with the topic with the amount they are interested in the topic, or that they can relate to the topic.  Ideally, members of the group can work on their own topic by working on the group topic.

This is one point in which the humanistic psychodrama is different from the classical psychodrama. In the classical psychodrama, the therapist chooses the protagonist and by that, he also sets the topic. It is, however, possible that the participators discuss the urgency of the topic among themselves.