In a captivating video, Zula influencers Chow and Fauzi embark on a transformative experience of psychodrama therapy with psychologist Sharmini Winslow. The video, “Trying Psychodrama Therapy For The First Time | My First Therapy with Sharmini Winslow,” captures their journey as they delve into deep emotions and self-discovery. The 24-minute video on YouTube showcases their transformative session:
Sharmini Winslow’s Expertise and Background:
Sharmini Winslow, a respected psychodramatist, guides Chow and Fauzi through this groundbreaking experience, drawing on her expertise in psychodrama therapy.
The First-Time Psychodrama Experience:
Chow and Fauzi express their excitement and curiosity about trying psychodrama therapy for the first time. They embrace the opportunity to explore this therapeutic technique with Winslow, who creates a safe space for their journey.
Unveiling Emotions through Psychodrama Vignettes:
Under Sharmini’s guidance, Chow and Fauzi engage in psychodrama vignettes, externalizing their inner experiences and exploring their emotions more deeply. They express and confront unresolved issues, gaining valuable insights into themselves and their relationships.
The Transformative Power of Psychodrama Therapy:
Through their first-time experience with psychodrama therapy, Chow and Fauzi find themselves astonished by its profound impact on their emotional well-being. The video showcases their journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
Sharing Their Insights:
Chow and Fauzi openly share their reflections and insights throughout the video, providing viewers with a glimpse into their transformative experience.
“Trying Psychodrama Therapy For The First Time | My First Therapy with Sharmini Winslow” offers viewers an intimate and enlightening experience as Chow and Fauzi explore the transformative power of psychodrama therapy. The video captures their journey of self-discovery, providing valuable insights into the therapeutic benefits of psychodrama. As viewers witness their growth and transformation, they are encouraged to reflect on their own emotional landscapes and consider the potential for healing and personal growth through this powerful therapeutic modality.
Since 2011, Sharmini Winslow has been a pioneer of psychodrama in Singapore and holds sessions with Promises Healthcare. After pursuing a career in dance and choreography, and founding her own Pilates studio, Sharmini discovered her natural affinity for forming connections with people – notably her close bonds with her Pilates students. Facing anxiety and feeling burnt out by the trials of running a business, she took a degree in counselling and eventually discovered the concept of psychodrama, where she found her own inner breakthroughs.
Here we find out more about this unique form of therapy and how it’s helped people with depression, anxiety and other issues.
Can you explain to us what psychodrama is all about?
Psychodrama is not drama therapy. Psychodrama has its own canon of theories and philosophies – it has a very coherent methodology. Jacob L Moreno was the psychiatrist who founded psychodrama and came up with a theory of personality, philosophy and methodology. It’s a very comprehensive way of working with clients that can also be adapted to work with other theories.
Psychodrama is basically taking whatever is in your psyche (“psycho-”) and putting it into action (“drama”) in the therapy room. We use objects and people to represent things or people from your life that you can interact with on the stage. In psychodrama, you can explore issues you want to deal with and the feelings that are coming up.
Can you give an example of what happens in a psychodrama session?
We begin with warm-ups to help participants connect and feel comfortable with each other and the director. A protagonist is chosen either as a volunteer or by the group. The protagonist is the group member who wishes to explore a situation in their life. A scene is set and group members are chosen as auxiliaries to play the roles of people, things, emotions or anything of significance in the story. The psychodramatist, also known as the director of the drama, facilitates the unfolding of the drama on the stage. The stage is the space set apart specifically for the action to take place. The rest of the group act as the audience who witnesses the drama. These are the main elements in a psychodrama.
In a drama, the protagonist might go to a scene from the past, the present or even a desired future. The protagonist usually experiences a new perspective; something in their psyche shifts and they can engage in the present with more energy and life!
In a psychodrama, we have many ways of facilitating healing and closure so we don’t re-traumatise people – that’s why it takes about 800 hours to become a qualified psychodramatist. There are protocols to follow to create safety and confidentiality, which is an important aspect of group therapy.
What do you think the main advantages of psychodrama are?
The main advantage of psychodrama is that it takes less time to get to the heart of the matter. It helps the client cut through the clutter of their intellectualisation and explore new problem-solving skills. It’s also a holistic form of therapy that embraces spontaneity and body awareness.
Psychodrama is relatively new in Singapore; does this cause any challenges? How do you address this?
There are many misconceptions and one of them is that you have to reveal your personal life to a group of strangers. In actual fact, great care is taken to build trust in the group, and if you’re still not warmed up you can participate as an audience member. I offer open sessions that allow people to experience what goes on in psychodrama. This helps to demystify it and make it more accessible. For those that want to dive deeper, I hold Personal Growth Groups that run for six to eight weeks. I believe that if people are willing to try it, they’ll enjoy it. But there’s always a hesitancy and fear about trying something new.
Is psychodrama more effective for certain kinds of people?
Psychodrama works best for people who are willing to be honest and open and want to deal with their issues in more creative ways.
Can it help with anxiety?
It helps with anger issues, depression, anxiety, stress, relationship issues, low self-esteem and even addictions.
What are some of your success stories?
I had a client who was too afraid to speak because of anxiety and his addiction issues. He was put into our group of men with addiction issues, and he was very quiet in this group. We started doing warm-ups and for the first time in his life people were relating to him as an equal, a peer. Nobody was talking down to him because nobody knew about his background except for me. He had become anxious as a result of years of drug use, and had some neurological issues.
After a few weeks, he started talking in short sentences and told us he had gone to a concert. All the guys in the group were slapping him on the back and cheering him on. His family was really grateful. He didn’t even do his own psychodrama, he was just part of the group.
What advice do you have for people who want to become professional psychodramatists?
Be patient! It takes many hours. If you’re committed to it, stay the course and don’t give up. Supervision is part of the learning process as it’s a very powerful method. Don’t neglect this important aspect of your training.
Want to discover psychodrama for yourself?
Sharmini is hosting an open session/introduction to psychodrama on 12 August for Expat Living readers – visit the Psychodrama website to sign up. She also holds training sessions for those interested in taking up psychodrama professionally. Sharmini is a Certified Psychodramatist, accredited by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy
Dinesh is a seasoned writer and editor with seven years of experience covering travel, restaurants and bars. His interests include film photography, cheesy 90s monster flicks, and scouring the island for under-the-radar craft beer bars.
*This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of Expat Living and on their website.
Anger is a response most of us have when we feel our territory is being threatened. This is a primitive reaction from our days as cavemen (and cavewomen) when a wild animal was nearby! This reaction has not quite been removed by modern civilisation. When something threatens our security, the brain responds to it with a fight or flight reaction. The body releases adrenaline which causes changes in the body. The heart pumps faster, breathing gets faster, blood gets diverted to the legs and arms so we can run or fight back. The blood flow to the reasoning part of the brain is lessened so that thinking becomes difficult. Nowadays there are no saber tooth tigers coming out to attack us which require us to fight or flee. However the body’s response to a threat remains the same and, unless we find ways to discharge the energy or change our perceptions, the fight response will persist.
Powerless!! That’s the situation most people find themselves in at the moment during this Covid-19 Pandemic Circuit Breaker. From the home maker, who has to see her family all day long to the child who wants to have his friends over; teenagers who are restricted in their activities with peers to husbands who have to adjust to being at home with no break! Cabin fever is setting in and many are not coping well. Add to that mix an addiction that is running rampant in the household and you have a powder keg ready to blow!!!
What can family members do at this time to stay sane and not get embroiled in another power struggle or argument with the addict in the house. Anger that luxury during normal times is just magnified as all of us are forced to Stay Home. A simple request turns into a huge event; an innocent comment gets misinterpreted; and even demonstrations of concern become fuel for accusations of being manipulative or controlling. What to do??
Most family members of addicts or dysfunctional families (most of us can attest to being in this category), have resorted for a while now to manage, manoeuvre, save or guilt trip. This comes from a place of love and fear. However having time apart has always been a great diffuser of tension. Now faced with a Stay Home situation things can get stressful. Once free to go out, meet friends, go to the gym and pursue our life goals, we find ourselves having to don a mask and stay six feet away from each other, with frequent temperature checks thrown in! Yes we know it’s for our own good but just how do we go about removing that sense of irritation or frustration?? What’s wrong with me? I never used to get SO upset?? Being stuck at home we ‘step on the toes’ of others or they inadvertently step on ours.
So here are some possible ways to cope…..
1. Walk away and discharge the energy
Going for a walk, or a run and getting away from the source or trigger for our anger is one option. Moving away and giving vent to the energy is what we need to do. Digging in the garden, washing dishes, scrubbing the bathroom tiles or polishing the furniture is a great outlet for this energy. Shredding newspaper is another excellent technique. After which you could turn the strips into Papier Mache pulp and create an art project. One woman wrote that she would pull out weeds and imagine she was pulling out her husband’s hair! This is called Detaching.
2. Practice Deep Breathing and Self soothing
This taking in of deep breaths, helps bring more oxygen into the body and to the brain. Especially important is the frontal cortex where our reasoning happens. Improved brain function helps restore some calmer thinking. Follow this up with doing something good for yourself such as listening to some music you like, dancing, playing a game on your phone, doing a craft or even having a nap. Seld care is important when you have to deal with a loved one suffering from an addiction. We often say, “Put on your own oxygen mask before you attend to others.”
3. How Important Is It?
Ask yourself this question. After walking away and breathing for a bit, consider how the event figures in the larger scheme of things. Does this event require action right now or can it wait? Do I need to say what’s on my mind right now or can I pause and say it later. Often I ask myself these questions- Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said by me now?? By the time ive asked myself these questions, my good sense would have returned and I can leave it for another time.
4. Respond not react
After calming down, consider a way to communicate which is kind and thoughtful. Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean. I’ve heard this said by someone- “Try to say it in ten words or less!” Haha! Most of us have communication patterns that escalate tension! So, try this for a change.
Another great tool is the acronym – T.H.I.N.K. Before I speak I need to THINK.
Is what I’m saying Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary or Kind. If not take a piece of Masking tape and place it nearby. This helps as a reminder to keep my mouth shut.
When all else fails, go talk to someone you trust and let it out. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Or seek one of many support groups or counsellors to help you cope. Whatever the case, we are all in this together! So don’t suffer alone. There are many helplines and people available to support you such as the ones listed below.
I am a self-confessed introvert. And I’m also an addict.
I was recently cajoled into attending a Psychodrama session. I’d heard things about it – years earlier, my then significant other lauded the raw emotional exploration her sessions afforded her. I encouraged her, it was good for her. Personally though, I found the idea of a group session’s ability to evoke genuine emotion alien. It was the antithesis of who I was.
I had never enjoyed group sessions. I hated them. The introvert in me screamed (silently) in indignation at being forced into a room with my peers, lorded over by therapists who would extol the heaven-sent power of vulnerability, hanging it over the heads of us sullen detainees. They would espouse connectedness with others, openness. To me, these were just unattainable states of being that I could never actualise. The years wore on, and I plodded along, entwined with my precious, thorny, addictions. Prison, pricey rehabs abroad. I took care to never bring my real self along to the banal group therapies – I merely presented them with an alter-ego. Faking it to get along. Or “faking it to make it”, in the parlance of addicts like myself who would say or do anything to achieve a discharge.
I was living an entirely unremarkable life, losing friends and embarrassing myself.
Then, I experienced a seismic shift in circumstances. To represent it as merely ‘mandated’ would be to deny gravity to what had happened. I had run afoul of the law again, and paid my penance with a 9 month long “drug rehab”. I got out, and three months later I was a year clean. Still, I wasn’t happy. I had done no soul searching, nor had I even begun to scratch the surface of my addiction, always lurking in the shadows. Of course, a large part of my reticence towards accepting sincere nudges in the direction of help could be attributed to personal and moral failings. But why was I the person that I was? That’s when I decided to attend a psychodrama workshop at the urgings of my boss, a sweet girl whose genuine concern had initially confounded me. Why did I acquiesce? To understand myself, I guess. So, I went in with an open mind.
Psychodrama is about exploring internal conflicts, by acting out emotions and interpersonal interactions. I wasn’t inclined to be the center of attention just yet, so I left other enthusiastic participants to play the protagonists. The director, a bubbly personality whose sharp wit was tempered by insightful, genuine empathy, herded a roomful of clueless attendees with a deft hand, schooling us in psychodrama’s basic concepts. I made myself small in the corner and watched as our director doubled volunteers, acting out scenes from their lives, giving voice to their unconscious. Revelatory perspicacity was the order of these moments. I watched as they were mirrored, experiencing themselves from the outside, drawing from a nonjudgmental pool of collective consciousness. I watched as roles reversed – mothers became their daughters, and wives their husbands. All of them seemed edified, comforted, even. Misty eyes and rivulet strewn faces, sighing into closures when none previously seemed possible. There was a woman pained by a frightful trauma, her repressed malefaction she seemed so sure she had committed driving her to seek expiation from whom had ceased to be able to give her any. From the outside looking in, I was sure her wound was self-inflicted – we all knew this, but one’s own guilt is deeply personal, often insidious. As her situation percolated in my mind, so did my own guilt. I hadn’t wept when I learned of my father’s and sister’s departures, I hadn’t wept at their funerals, I hadn’t wept at their memorials. I hadn’t needed to, because I had my addiction. Now, without the pernicious warmth of substances, these losses became some therapeutic cynosure of a starting point. I had begun to understand myself, through others. The cynic in me finally realised why, across addiction recovery literature, syllabuses are almost invariably characterised by the motif of benefits accrued by group therapy. I think it owes something to the collective experience of humanity, that no matter your guilt or your shame, there are people out there who have lived congruent experiences. It may seem cloying and mawkish for me to say that no-one is truly alone, but it’s true.