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The meaning of change through therapeutic enactment in psychodrama Brooks, Dale Theodore


The purpose of this study was to understand the meaning of change through therapeutic enactment in psychodrama. Existential and hermeneutic phenomenology conducted from the perspective of a dialectic between storied narrative and thematic analysis was used to investigate the essential meaning of the experience. Eight co-researchers who had experienced significant change through therapeutic enactment in psychodrama were interviewed in depth. Transcripts from these interviews were transposed into narrative form in order to straighten the story of change through enactment in a before, during, and after sequence. These eight individual narratives were validated by the co-researchers. An independent reviewer checked each narrative against the original transcript, video tapes of the enactments, and comments of each co-researcher for trustworthiness. Each validated narrative provided a rich description of the lived experience of change through therapeutic enactment. In addition, fifty-nine (59) essential themes were formulated from the individual narratives: Fourteen (14) in the planning stage, twenty-four (24) in the enactive stage, and twenty-one (21) in the reflective, or integrative stage, of the enactment process. These themes were then woven into a common story representing the pattern and meaning of change through therapeutic enactment for this group of co-researchers. Finally, notations made during the transposing of the transcripts into personal narratives, formulation of the essential themes, and construction of the common story were used to develop a theoretical story of change through therapeutic enactment, as a final level of hermeneutic interpretation. This theoretical story was then presented in summary form as a thematic sequence of multi-modal change processes representing a model of change through therapeutic enactment. The results of this study suggested numerous theoretical and technical implications. Foremost among theoretical implications was the suggestion that Tomkins (1992) script theory of affect may best illuminate the effects and processes of psychodrama and enactment. This study also had implications for interactional theories of development, contemporary psychoanalytic theories of interpersonal functioning, theories of moral development, theories of dream functioning, and ethological theories of myth and ritual. The results of this study also suggested a number of additional qualitative and comparative outcome studies for future research.

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