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Social skills training – psychodramatic group games

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Psychodramatic group games offer an attractive way to achieve multiple educational and therapeutic goals. With their theatrical and playful character, they help participants to express their feelings and needs, and help them to overcome shyness, fear of the group, and personal defences. They are particularly useful in acquiring communication skills – learning how to communicate with others and how to present opinions, position – to explain their realities. Thanks to these new abilities, participants’ self-confidence and self-belief are strengthened.

ORGANISM
This activity teaches interaction with others, and helps participants to discover their own uniqueness and individual place in the group.

Participants work together to ‘create’ a living organism. The teacher can specify that it is to be a human, or leave the decision to the group – they may prefer a plant or animal. Participants have a moment to reflect on what part of the body they feel they are at that moment. Creating the body should start spontaneously – one of the volunteers assumes a pose characterising the chosen body-part’s function, then explains to the others what’s happening. For example: – I am the right ear. I hear everything that is happening around me. Sometimes I hear too much. The next volunteer finds a place for themselves in an appropriate position relative to the ear and introduces himself: – I am the left hand. Nothing ever works out for me, I always spoil everything, I’m good for nothing. The next people take their positions, trying to respect the proportions and shape of the created body. When everyone has their place, the operator asks everyone, in a single sentence, or perhaps a single word, to describe how they feel. The second stage of the game is to create a body in the same way, but this time using a different criterion – instead of selecting those parts of the body which they think they are, participants select those which they would like to be.

This exercise has a valuable cognitive component – it helps participants identify, define and reveal the emotions (positive and negative) associated with being in a group. This applies also to the broader context of social functioning in different situations and contexts (in a family environment, at work). The technique can be applied at all stages of the group process, though its function and meaning will change depending on the development of the group at the moment of introduction.

TOWN
This exercise serves primarily to increase teamwork and verbal communication skills. It may also be useful in targeting specific tasks to be performed in the area of professional development.

The trainer explains the principles of the exercise. Together, the group “builds” a city in which each participant will determine their own place. One possible start is the delineation of several important points in the room – for example, marking out the center square or plaza with a few benches or mattresses where residents can meet after work, as well as the main streets. The first part of the exercise is done individually – the participants look for a suitable place for themselves within the city limits and create their objects – houses, offices, workplaces. They utilize anything available in the room – furniture, props, scarves. They communicate with each other, explaining what each is doing, what places they’re making. After several minutes the trainer stops the action and asks that each participant in turn explains to the whole group, in a few words, their area. For example: – I built a sweet shop, which is housed in a two-storied building with a terrace. It is surrounded by gardens and situated right next to the main square. I work here as an assistant baker. Or: – My house is a vocational school. It’s easy to find, because it’s at the end of the main street, near the park, and it’s bright yellow. I am a maths teacher. The next step is when all the residents successively visits each participant. The whole group travels from one place to another, and is welcomed by the host, who gives a tour of the facilities, and talks about the project. The exercise can end with a meeting of all the residents in the main square. It can be either a picnic or a dance – it is important to create an atmosphere of relaxation.

In this exercise, the most important thing is the creativity and spontaneity of the participants. It combines two forms of work – individual and team. Every participant in the game has the opportunity to show their interest, passion and skills to the rest of the group. There is also room for fantasy – for imagining yourself in a new situation, unlikely, even impossible circumstances. This aspect is important for many, because it extends the boundaries of their reality (in psychodrama, called “Surplus Reality”). It lets them think about themselves with a greater openness to change, and see themselves in a new social role.
The exercise can have different options depending on the specific needs of the educational or therapeutic programme. Instead of building a city, the group can create a multi-functional workplace – for example, a kitchen, with workstations for the various “experts”. Each of them talks about their duties, the difficulties to be overcome, and the interesting and rewarding aspects of their jobs.

A wide selection of psychodrama-based games and exercises available at:

http://suvot.intras.es/index.php/en/didactic-materials/teaching-manual.html (EN)

http://www.teatrgrodzki.pl/book/droga-rozwijanie-umiejetnosci-spolecznych-poprzez-teatr-i-drame/ (PL)

Comments

  1. Avatar of artur

    artur

    8 June 2014

    Could theatre offer more than just entertaintment? Althought I dare doubting Aristotle’s idea of catharthic impact of a performance over spectators, I do believe theatre is able to refresh, enrich, enlight and even heal an individual. But not a passive member of the audience. Commitment is the token that makes the magic work. Power of theatre sustains those who participate – creators, actors. Facing any difficulties in real existence they can safely rehearse better life while acting; on the stage it is possible to shape life up to expectations and fight monsters – whether imaginary or paifully physical – tormenting soul and flesh. Drama participants with no risks can express those aspects of their personality they would not dare to reveal among family and acquaintances. What is more, they can experience understanding, acceptace, applause – hidden inside their stage persona at the beginning, but still it may be enough to entice them into further steps towards fulfilment and that uncomparably empowering experience of creating beauty or transferring a good news of any kind. So make theathre, you who can, and involve those, who need it.

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