Have you ever heard of The Drama Triangle?
Before we take our groups out into the pastures for equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP), we first ask them "What do you want to work on today?" (We explain that as you keep an open mind with this therapy, we see the best results when we go out to greet the horses with an intention. This intention can be something they want to work on in their lives, maybe it's personal, maybe it's professional, maybe it has something to do with their sobriety, or a past trauma they're trying to heal from.
This isn't the first time we taught the Drama Triangle to a group, but this day I feel like we hit the nail on the head. We had a women's group for a 2-hour EAP session. Upon intake they spoke of anxiety, stress, interpersonal relationships (and there was an underlying tone of trauma/abuse) and it seemed like the perfect time to introduce the Drama Triangle.
With help of Lambert (pictured below), Snickers and Buddy, we gathered together in the enclosure and laid out the Drama Triangle in the sand.
To begin, below is an image depicting the three parts of the drama triangle (Stephen Karpman).
The group was asked to watch the three horses interact in the space provided. The group was to watch behaviors of the horses and comment on anything they noticed that looked like any of the roles on the Drama Triangle.
The interactions among the three horses were nothing short of amazing as the horses acted out all the roles as if they were handed a script. The 15 minute horse to horse observations helped the group talk about their own human to human relationships, struggles, etc.
(The triangle maps a type of destructive interaction that occurs in relationships.)
But wait! There's a flip side.
When we introduce the Drama Triangle, we take into consideration the demographics of the group. During this instruction we used "Bully" in the place of "Persecutor" and "Leader" in the place of "Challenger" We also replaced the "Creator" with "Survivor".
We discussed the relationship between the victim and the rescuer may be one of codependency. The rescuer keeps the victim dependent by encouraging their victimhood. The victim gets their needs met by having the rescuer take care of them.
The group participants tended to speak about having a primary or habitual role (victim, rescuer, persecutor) when they enter into drama triangles. Participants first learn their habitual role in their family of origin. Even though participants each have a role with which they most identify, once on the triangle, participants rotate through all the three positions.
I think that every member of the group will never forget the exercise and what they learned from it. It's empowering to see women of all ages and different personalities come together in an AH-HA moment.
These are the days that I truly feel I am making a difference.
I love this job!