What is Psychoplayback

Psychoplayback uses playback theatre as the basic method that enables participants to enter a psychotherapeutic space. Participants choose if to stay within a theatrical space that keeps an esthetic distance from the experience; a state enabling a more distant perspective on one’s behavior (Kellermann, 2007a p.84) and a more realistic appraisal of oneself (Kellermann, 2007a p.85), or coming closer into a less distanced psychodramatic experience that brings about experience-near insights oriented towards personal development and change (Pascual-Leone & Greenberg, 2007 p.45).


Psychoplayback, similarly to playback theatre is based on elements tied to art, ritual, and social interaction (Fox, 1999 p.127). The ritual in psychoplayback expands the ritual of playback theatre adding possibilities for psychotherapeutic intervention in form of additional phases that draw upon elements from Boal’s theatre of the oppressed and Moreno’s psychodrama. Psychoplayback enables participants to reside in a transitional potential space; transition between the esthetic world of playback that emphasizes the aspect of artistic performance, and the therapeutic world of psychodrama that emphasizes intra-psychic and inter-subjective processes.


To the different phases of the playback ritual are added intermediate phases that enable the conductor to bring participants to experience-near insights which are as close as possible to esthetic distance, enabling the participant to place himself at the distance most appropriate for him or her; a distance represented by four different phases: passive observer, teller who chooses to share his or her personal story, teller-director who builds his or her scene, and protagonist who takes an active part in his or her own psychodrama using the psychoplayback technique.


By starting out from an experience distanced place and going through a gradual process of reducing the distance, the protagonist comes as close as he or she is able to the described experience. The possibility to move within the spectrum of closeness and distance enables the client new insights. Through this gradual process which is derived from the initial distance taken from the experience, the protagonist goes through a process that enables “experience-distant insight” which is expressed as analytical and cognitive linking. As an outcome of coming close to the experience itself the protagonist goes through a process of emotional and perceptual ventilation that reflects the contents of his or her experience (Pascual—Leone & Greenberg, 2007 p.38).



  • Cohen, O. (2011). PsychoPlayback: The Space Extended Between Playback Theatre and Psychodrama, on the Axle between a Theatrical Artistic Experience and Psychotherapy. (Lesley University).
  • Fox, J., & Dauber, H. (1999). Gathering voices: Essays on playback theatre. New Paltz, NY: Tusitala Publishing.
  • Kellermann, P. F. (2007a). Let's face it: Mirroring in psychodrama. In C. Baim, J. Burmeister, & M. Maciel (Eds.), Psychodrama: Advances in theory and practice (pp. 83-95). London: Routledge.
  • Pascual-Leone, A., & Greenberg, L. S. (2007). Insight and awareness in experiential therapy. In L. G. Castonguay, & C. E. Hill (Eds.), Insight in psychotherapy (pp.31-56). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.

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