Integrating Cognitive Behavioral with Psychodramatic Theory and Techniques

Thomas Treadwell

V.K. Kumar Joseph H. Wright

This brief chapter combines psychodrama and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques in applied group settings. We illustrate the application of some CBT techniques that were found helpful in the three phases of psychodrama with college students and patients diagnosed with mood, substance abuse, anxiety, and personality disorders. Although both CBT and psychodrama models stress the discovery process through Socratic questioning, the use of certain structured CBT techniques (e.g., the Dysfunctional Thought Record) provides additional ways of stimulating the development of self-reflection and problem-solving skills. The group cognitive behavioral therapy (GCBT) model focuses on identifying upsetting situations, automatic negative thoughts, triggered moods, writing balanced thoughts to counter negative automatic thoughts, and recognizing distortions in thinking and imprecise interpretations of difficult situations. The GCBT environment provides a supportive and safe climate to practice new thinking and behaviors (Treadwell, Kumar, & Wright, 2004).

Although traditional psychodrama is conceptualized in terms of three main techniques—warm up, action and sharing—there is no dearth of techniques that may be applied in those three phases (see Treadwell, Stein, and Kumar, 1988, Treadwell, Kumar, & Stein, 1990). The versatility of psychodrama stems from the variety of tech-

niques that have been borrowed or adapted from various individual and group psychotherapy modalities. With the increasing popularity of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, especially those developed by Beck and his colleagues (see Beck, 1995; Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979) in the treatment of anxiety and depression in individual psychotherapy, we found incorporating these techniques within a psychodramatic environment produced persuasive results. Thus, the blending of the two models yields a complementary eclectic approach to multiple problem-solving strategies.

Getting to Know Anxiety

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