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It’s a deep action method dealing with intergroup relations and collective ideologies. ‘The true subject of a sociodrama is the group,’ says Dr J.L. Moreno
Sociodrama is characterised by a group driven to look at, explore, and come to some collective resolution of a shared and agreed issue using a number of drama-based techniques which help develop the issue and possible different outcomes, perceptions, and actions.
When schools re-open there will be a whole range of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations to going back to ‘the new normal’ and that they need some time and space to be expressed, reflected upon, and processing to find a way to start to make sense of a human event that has affected us all in so many different ways.
There will be those pupils who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which can include the loss of a relative or a parent/care giver who has been working during the period of lockdown, those that have watched and listened daily the news of mounting numbers of those who have died or been infected or visibly seeing and feeling the sense of isolation and social distancing.
There will be questions and more questions about the whole situation and finding some common ground with others to try and make some sense and also feel connected when at times it might have felt the opposite.
Often we are told we are or have been all in this together and also that our collective actions have reduced the rate of infection or helped to reduce the numbers who have been admitted to hospital.
Sociodrama can be a method that can be used to help look at the collective experience of COVID-19 in a way that helps meet the needs of the individual but also the group as a whole. It is something that can be used for a whole class with teachers and pupils involved, socially-distanced of course.
One simple way is to first of all hear from each individual about an experience of COVID-19 now this might not all be doom and gloom. In fact for some it may have been a positive experience and yet for others it might heighten feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and despair for the future.
Making a clear statement about a thought, feeling, body sensation, and a social context would make it feel more manageable but also acknowledge how everyone is effected in different ways.
An agreed title to a story might be given – ‘Living in the New Normal’ or ‘ COVID-19 Stopped Me Living my Life’ which will be the focus of the unfolding drama.
Once some time has been given to this then specific roles would be encouraged to be noted on pieces of paper. Each person could state a role that would be marked down by the teacher/pastoral worker/facilitator and the placed on the floor or on a chair for everyone to see.
Roles might include: scientists, politicians, economists, fortune teller, patients, medics, friends, etc. The roles are numerous and can be added too. Each role may have conflicting nature but can be complementary. These need to be noted and placed next to or opposite the other. Once all the roles have been placed out the group can then come forward one by one to make a statement from it.
Normally there would be more fluidity and spontaneous response to the statement in a traditional sociodrama but this will need to be managed in a different way where the statement can be made and a counter or complimentary one can be made from around the socially distanced room.
A role of being distanced both physically and emotionally may be heightened in this moment and acknowledged as well as a feeling that our lives have felt restricted and bound by an invisible thing which may trigger thoughts and feelings about not knowing and being out of control or conversely over controlled.
Now these thoughts, feelings, and situations not only have relevance in the here and now but also will have links with past experiences as well as future projections about how life could be.
Encouraging young people to explore how the present situation has affected them through a socio-psychological lens not only allows all the roles to be explored but will have personal connections about how it affects feelings now, in the past, and in the future to have a collective voice through the method of sociodrama and lead to better connections and understanding of each other but the wider situation.
Image credit: Freepik
Carl Dutton is a psychodrama psychotherapist working in the NHS in FRESH CAMHS at Alderhey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.