Dr. Meg Givnish Talks Psychodrama Therapy on WFTL’s Joyce Kaufman Show

Mental health pioneer and BHOPB psychologist, Dr. Meg Givnish recently appeared on 850 WFTL’s Joyce Kaufman Show to discuss the evolution, practice and benefits of psychodrama therapy. During the interview, Dr. Givnish spoke at length about the effectiveness of psychodrama in a variety of areas, including addiction treatment, professional conflict, domestic turmoil and even international relations.

After working for years as a clinician, Dr. Givnish developed the now famous Problem-Solving Theatre Troupe, a performance group that applies psychodrama through audience participation and improvisational acting to help participants successfully resolve conflicts. After an extensive hiatus, she recently reformed the troupe.

Dr. Givnish also discussed her partnership with Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches and how psychodrama is especially empowering for recovering addicts because it compels them to abandon the role of victim, while embracing forgiveness and eliminating toxic resentment. She is currently partnering with Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches to train new certified psychodrama experts – or as she calls them, “therapeutic thespians” – to perpetuate and grow this unique and effective form of therapy

To listen to other staff interviews, please visit our radio page.

Change Your Perspective

Psychodrama therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which patients use role playing exercises to act out events from their past or current dilemmas in their lives to gain greater self-awareness. The technique was created by Dr. Jacob L. Moreno in 1921 and This exercise is a hands-on, judgment free practice that allows patients to gain new and unique insights into their own actions and behavioral trends.has been practiced by countless mental health professionals around the world.[1]

At times, it can be difficult for a person to understand how damaging their behavior is and the ways in which their actions affect others. Psychodrama therapy allows patients to look at themselves and their behavior from a different point of view, and allows them to explore new ways of handling adverse situations. It also allows them to express hidden emotions and thoughts through action.

The therapy differs from traditional talk therapy in that psychodrama therapy is experiential, forcing patients to work through their problems in an active manner – as opposed to just talking about them. Psychodrama therapy can be extremely spontaneous, unpredictable, improvisational and flexible.

Psychodrama Therapy Is Perfect for:

  • Individuals who need to reexamine their current life situation
  • Individuals who need to explore a new perspective on a particular event or scenario
  • Individuals who would like to improve their behavior/reactions to a situation which recurs in their lives
  • Individuals who need to learn new methods of solving current problems
  • Individuals who need to gain greater perceptions of themselves and the world around them
  • Individuals who need help moving past a past traumatic experience

How Does a Psychodrama Session Work?

A typical psychodrama therapy session includes a small group of people who are working cooperatively in skits that simulate various situations, relationships or problems in their lives. The sessions are led by a licensed and experienced practitioner, who observes and identifies meaningful patterns of behavior that have led to negative consequences and/or destructive actions.

This exercise is a hands-on, judgment free practice that allows patients to gain new and unique insights into their own actions and behavioral trends. Gaining an outside perspective empowers patients to begin modifying their habits. This can be a freeing experience for patients who have been unwittingly stuck in dysfunctional patterns of behaviors and thoughts.

The Impact on Addiction Treatment

Drugs and alcohol are mind and behavior altering chemicals. Continued abuse over long periods of time may lead to a change in brain chemistry, a decrease in self-awareness and flawed perceptions. It’s not uncommon for an addict to be completely oblivious to any changes, as obsession with substance abuse dominates their thoughts. Additionally, substance abuse disorders are often accompanied with mental health issues, and many addicts have no idea how these mental conditions have affected them or the people they love.

Psychodrama therapy in addiction offers patients a brief, sobering and honest look in the mirror. It can allow them to recognize the situations which precipitate substance abuse, or the catalysts for depression or anxiety, which often trigger the need for self-medication.[2]

The early stages of recovery for many addicts is focused on identifying and eliminating people, places and situations that cause them to want to use drugs or alcohol. While traditional talk therapies are helpful in this endeavor, actually watching a common situation acted out before a patient’s eyes could be more effective.

At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, we utilize psychodrama therapy as just one aspect of our comprehensive drug and alcohol rehabilitation. With our focus on treating the patient, not just their condition, psychodrama therapy is extremely helpful in creating the patient breakthroughs needed for long-term change and success.