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Creative Commons License
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Date of Graduation

8-1-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Ken Critchfield

Anne Stewart

Cara Meixner

Abstract

Drama Therapy is an active and experiential form of psychotherapy that is useful for group and individual therapy with a variety of populations (Dintino & Johnston, 1996; Emunah, 1999; Johnson, 2009; Landy, 1996, 2009; Sajnani, 2010). Often, there is ample work within the therapy process on understanding and shifting interpersonal patterns. Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (Benjamin, 2006; 2018) offers a set of organizing principles emphasizing how early relationship patterns are copied in present relationships with self and other in order to conceptualize and guide treatment, focusing on in-session processes (Critchfield & Benjamin, 2006). The potential for integrating Drama Therapy and interpersonal modalities such as Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy is rich, as experiential interventions invite clients to engage through creativity and embodiment, reaching the “primitive brain” (Benjamin, 2018) where relational learning can take place. This mixed-methods study investigated a group protocol that integrates these approaches, evaluating the group processes and subsequent changes in participants’ interpersonal patterns and distress levels. The analysis of this group indicated that adaptive change occurred through factors of group connectedness and cohesion, experiential processes, validating experiences, identifying barriers and red patterns, finding new ways of being and desired future states, and integrating new ways of being within group sessions and in outside experiences. The adaptive change included measurable symptom reduction, particularly in areas most targeted by the group including lessening of functional (relationship) difficulties, as well as adaptive changes in self-treatment.

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