Psychodrama is an exercise used in psychotherapy and utilized by some inpatient treatment centers for the purpose of self-discovery. It is supposed to be therapeutic. But at my 4th treatment center in Florida, the staff misused it terribly. They had us participate in psychodrama for their amusement and entertainment and it was beyond inappropriate and awful. I’d never heard of it before, which I thought was sort of odd, because by the time I attended that facility, I’d probably seen 25 therapists over my lifetime.
Psychodrama is pretty much just what it sounds like – it’s acting. One person or a group puts on a performance. They portray a character or characters in order to later evaluate their own performance and self-reflect with the objective of learning something valuable about him or her self. This particular treatment center was for women and during this particular psychodrama group, which was held each Thursday, I played Lyndsey Lohan. I was mortified. I’d only been there for three days and hadn’t even fully detoxed yet.
Because I was new, I didn’t have any lines. I strapped a cell phone to my ankle to mimic Lindsay’s ankle monitor and flopped over in a chair with a hoodie over my head pretending like I was stoned out of my mind. The other women in my group played ‘Rehabbers’ like Paris Hilton, Brittney Spears and Kim Richards. They had lines and essentially, we put on a skit for the entire staff. I’m no actress and while most everyone, residents and staff alike, seemed to enjoy the exercise, I was appalled by it.
Psychodrama is supposed to illicit deeply buried emotions and beliefs that might prove helpful to understanding one’s own recovery and mental health. But that isn’t what it was used for in this treatment center. I remember the entire staff lining their chairs up in our group room to watch our skit. Everything about it was uncomfortable and wrong. We put on this skit for no other reason than to entertain the staff. There was not one self-discovery or therapeutic moment about it.
Of the nine inpatient treatment centers I’ve attended, this one, the Orchid, in Florida was by far, hands down, the worst. The facility was beautiful. The location was beautiful. And the staff had absolutely NO business working with substance abuse patients in an inpatient treatment center. I left their 30-day program four days early and relapsed before I even got on the plane. I drank all the way back to Seattle. To say it was a disaster is an understatement of epic proportions.
Today, I cringe when I think about my experience there. But strangely enough, the bitter thoughts I have of the staff are pushed to the back of my mind when I replace those thoughts with how beautiful the center was overall. The grounds and buildings were of the highest quality, secluded, manicured with fountains, and luxury suites. It was one of the most aesthetically pleasing residential centers I’ve attended. It wasn’t far from the ocean and part of their acreage was lit at night, which, in addition to being very peaceful and beautiful – it invited walks and time for reflection. I spent as much time out in those gardens as I was allowed.
Might Psychodrama actually be beneficial? Maybe. If it’s practiced under the care of a therapist who actually knows how to direct it and interact with the participants. It requires an immense amount of trust for the therapist and confidence in the process. I had neither and the staff didn’t ask for it. Would I do it again? Hell NO.
Ah. The good ol’ days of treatment. Glad those are over!!