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Distance Theory

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Dramatherapy and psychodrama, as creative action methods in psychotherapy, can then be seen to overlap. They facilitate the development of the person through encouraging spontaneity and creativity. They are within the humanistic, existential and phenomenological traditions of therapy. Dramatherapy is influenced as much by developments in 20th Century theatre and drama as by its interface with schools of therapy. This makes generalisations about the methods difficult. One potentially useful distinction between the two methods is the degree of ‘distancing’ used. (Casson, 2004, 67-8)

We are individuals because we can separate from the other. To separate we must have appropriate boundaries and be able to express and assert ourselves in relation to the other, people and the world. To do this we need to achieve a ‘middle’ distance in our relationships, neither too distant nor too close: we must mediate our closeness, negotiate our intimacy and regulate our distance so as to be neither overwhelmed nor too isolated. We must also mediate our relationship with ourselves: the I-me relationship, so that we are not overwhelmed by our own experience nor too distant from our own needs: self aware and able to achieve a balanced, self regulated sense of self. In order to survive we need relationships: we are social creatures. Withdrawal into isolation may be healthy sometimes, giving us time to think, breathe, relax, contemplate, and so moderate the impact of the other, people/world. Letting ourselves be engulfed by others, giving up our separateness may sometimes be healthy: in the ecstasy of love/sex, in football crowds, in political or religious experiences. But between these extremes we need a middle distance, a fulcrum, to hold these polarities, of extreme isolation on the one hand, and merging so we lose identity on the other hand, in balance. Birdfield (1998/9, 27) proposed a middle path between underdistance and overdistance which he called therapeutic or aesthetic distance. (Casson, 2004, 119-120)

The Communicube then provides sufficient distance and a containing structure for material that might otherwise overwhelm. It is a development of dramatherapy and psychodrama practice which emerged during research and is soundly based within these therapeutic disciplines. It is an open and flexible method and is being used by therapists from many different orientations.

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