A thorough search of affective awareness strategies and learning models leads to the study of three psychological models. Psychodrama, Gestalt, and humanistic psychologies are particularly useful as a means to reach greater awareness of the intersubjective and intrasubjective selves. The constructs within these theories place great importance on affective awareness and learning related to the self, and thus provide us with ways to begin incorporating the affective domain into the classroom. Briefly, we can understand intersubjective as an awareness that occurs in the moment of two people connecting. It is about learning in the moment without a previous agenda. Intrasubjective is what we are able to learn about ourselves. It seems almost self-evident that psychological strategies might be useful in this way. Gestalt, psychodrama, and humanistic psychologies offer support for both and are foundational to affective literacy.


The term psychodrama is believed to have been coined by Jacob Moreno (Williams, 1989). Moreno was an Austrian psychiatrist who lived from 1892 to 1976 and who is credited with the origination of group therapy. From 1909 to 1911, Moreno devised his own form of role-play, which by 1922 became a theatrical production totally structured around spontaneous work called Das Stegreiftheater. He initially implemented his ideas with children and later included adults who valued being-in-the-moment-of-creation versus pursuing goals, such as perfection. As he watched psychodrama's effect on the audiences and the actors (patients) in relation to their lives at home, Moreno wondered if the work of spontaneity could be the key to mental health (see for an actual psychodrama being created by Moreno). His theatrical use of psychodrama was also highly criticized by the psychoanalytic community.

Moreno's wife, Zerka, was also very influential in the development of psychodrama strategies. Using a social systems approach, Moreno's approach was more horizontal, while Zerka favored a vertical approach that concentrated on the cathartic work that may be found by exploring primal past experiences (Fox, 1987). Zerka pulled others who had connections to the actor into the psychodrama to evaluate the dynamics being played out between them. The vertical method used by Zerka asks the actor (patient) to go inside to find the inner conflict or wound (see Williams (1989) outlines the central beliefs for using psychodrama as:

1. People have multi-role personalities.

2. Spontaneity is found in the here and now.

3. Spontaneity leads to creativity, which leads to personal awareness and healing.

4. It is action in the moment that brings about change.

5. Psychodrama fosters the creation of meaning versus the excavation of meaning found in traditional therapy. The process of interaction between individuals, or tele, is critical to understanding psychodrama. The term tele originated from the Greek word meaning far off. Tele is “the simplest unit of feeling transmitted from one individual to another” (Moreno, 1953, p. 159). Kellerman (1979) described tele as the emotional feeling tone that exists in almost all human relationships. It is very similar to descriptions of intersubjective knowing or the idea of care theory found in more recent literature. Watson says it this way, “The meaning and essence of care are experienced in the moment when one human being connects with another” (Watson, 2004, p. viii). We continue to see our connectedness as a part of the way we experience one another, which carries on to this day.

Dayton (1994) presented psychodrama as a healing process that does not require conscious remembering of an event; the remembrance is precipitated when one's body acts out an old event. The action triggers the hidden trauma from that event but allows it to be reconstructed in the here and now with different outcomes. This is truly a subconscious learning model that allows the person who is working to re-create his or her interior life. “It provides the pathway to bring our inner and outer reality into balance and accord” (Dayton, 1994, p. 7). It is easy to see the value of being in the moment, being open to others, creating a connection to parts of self that have another agenda, and using spontaneity and creativity to give clarity to self-awareness as useful tools for personal self-awareness and growth. The challenge is having the skills to do this in a classroom. To address this issue, let us begin to explore how psychodrama is useful in building the foundations of an affective pedagogy.

Educators often hear stories of students with math phobias, dissertation paralysis, and other traumatic academic events that play out in the student. The literature suggests that psychodrama could be used to address such issues by allowing the student (actor) to explore the old subconscious inner voice that creates his or her response. Psychodrama also provides an avenue to re-script this internal message—something that psychodramatists believe is as real as the original message in the subconscious part of the brain.

We see some of these methods in classrooms where the teacher uses a family scripting method to show family relationships (e.g., in a community health course when studying family dynamics). Imagine its use for those who fear taking tests, become paralyzed with math, or have complete loss of memory when they have to present to the class. Vignette 1.1 provides an example of just such an issue.

Vignette 1.1

I was in my first semester of college, and I needed to give a 15-minute presentation on a historical event, and I had no more than three quarters of a page of writing. I remember getting up, walking to the front of the class, but I don't emember any- thing else until I was sitting down. I could remember only some of what I said. I don't remember seeing a face—and at this point, I don't recall if the instructor told me anything. This became a serious inner failure in my life, and I dedicated myself to fight this type of fear forever, no matter what it took.

Two years later at a different college in California, a friend of mine and I decided to sing at a college talent night. I had been playing guitar in front of small groups and found great confidence when playing and singing. We decided to sing a Simon and Garfunkel song, “Scarborough Fair.” We knew the audience would be around 5,000 people who would also vote on us in relation to other presentations. It was then that I realized I found power and self-esteem when holding a guitar and singing. It was freeing to know I could find a way to be confident in front of thousands of people and share a part of myself.

Would it be possible to gain such awareness about oneself in a classroom? Maybe it would work for presentation anxiety, or test anxiety if we had alternative ways to present things creatively. What if we used poems, music, or other ways to address these challenging issues for students?

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