Somewhere over the rainbow…  Dorothy arrived in OZ to begin her archetypal journey of self-discovery.  The books and the movie are familiar to many and readily lend themselves to creative explorations. 

This topic first emerged in a conversation with Dr. Joe Romance, a friend and colleague, as we considered co-presenting a workshop using rainbow imagery for the annual ASGPP conference.  He suggested the theme “Over The Rainbow”; my response was “Joe, you are waaayyy over the rainbow!!”  And so began our collaboration on Way Over the Rainbow- Finding Your True Colors.  The workshop was intended to be both an invitation to the LGBTQIA community while inclusive towards everyone.  Each time I’ve offered this workshop it has become an experience of exploration and acceptance while engaging the full community.  

For most of us, our world is filled with color.  It therefore offers an innocuous warm-up with familiar tools which can lead rapidly to deeper psychodrama explorations. Color often brings out the spontaneity or playfulness of our childhood with exciting results. 

One potential starting place is to create a color wheel on the floor, using fabric, scarves, sheets of paper, etc.  In psychodrama au deux or individual therapy, you can assemble a spectrum by collecting color sample cards from a paint store. These would be suitable for a desk or small table.  Sometimes names for the various hues on paint samples further contribute to the warm-up.  If working with the LGBTQIA community you might place the colors as a rainbow flag rather than as a color wheel.  A quick internet search will let you know the meaning behind the colors of the rainbow flag – both the original 8 stripe flag and the more common 6 stripe flag.  If interested, another potential warm-up is a quiz- matching the flag to the identifying group.  (There is one in the June 14, 2019 issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth. www.camprehoboth.com  pg 72/answers pg 91) 

In any case, don’t limit your colors to 6, 8, or 12 - the more color choices available to participants, the greater their opportunity for exploration.  Use a mix of fabrics, papers, textures, and weights to engage additional sensory responses with visual. 

A simple beginning is to have individuals choose a color that draws them in the moment.  It is useful to speak of ‘drawn to’ rather than ‘attracted to’ so as to allow the focus of the stories to be light or shadow. Expanding the warm-up, have members share why they chose their specific colors – whether in dyads, triads or with the entire group.  If you are working with a large color layout on the floor, you might invite people to share with individuals nearby. 

You might invite participants to choose a complimentary color on the opposite side of the color wheel to explore potential unclaimed or shadow material. Expand this warm-up by having individuals choose a color that triggers a negative response.  Other questions can include: a color that raises a memory, a favorite color, one to represent a strength or resource, or one that piques their curiosity in the moment. Or ask what color a friend/partner/family member might choose to represent them. 

In any of these situations, the warm-up is deepened by inviting the individual to reverse roles and speak as that color, rather than talking about their chosen shade“As green, I represent hope and nature to you. And I want to invite you to spend more time outside and appreciate me in fullness, not watching me through the window. Spring is a time of year you get caught up in many projects on the computer, and yet this is the time that I change shades each day as spring wakens to warmth and longer days.  When you are at your busiest is when you also need me the most!” 

One opportunity for powerful work is in exploring tensions between the color an individual chooses and the colors that others expect of them.  There is a insightful passage in The Gammage Cup, portraying this dynamic. One of the characters, Muggles, speaks up at the town meeting. “I don’t think it’s doors or cloaks or… or orange sashes.  It’s us.  What I mean is, it’s no matter what color we paint our doors or what kind of clothes we wear, we’re…well, we’re those colors inside us.  Instead of being green inside, you see, like other folks.  So I don’t think maybe it would do any good if we just changed our outside color.  We would still be… be orange or scarlet inside, and, well, we would do orange and scarlet things all the time...” 

Invite an individual to speak from their chosen color, and then experience having that color masked by the expectations of others.  If you are working with fabric or scarves, you can literally have the color representing external or imposed expectations overshadow the authentic color. This can help clarify the cost of this dynamic.  If I want to be blue violet and others want me to be blue, the tensions might be present yet not particularly strong.  When the differences are masking my scarlet with your beige, the experience is often more exhausting or painful. 

Any of these warm-up activities can easily lead into a full psychodrama.  Color imagery opens a range of individuation, inclusion and exclusion themes.  Protagonists can use this framework to address both obstacles to self-acceptance and steps they can take to step closer into their true selves. 

In primarily verbal groups, color imagery can be uses in an action warm-up structure.  This can create an opening for more direct discussion regarding resources, obstacles, inclusion, internal validation or external expectations. 

In addition to the color imagery of exclusion/acceptance in The Gammage Cup, additional warming-up resources could include playing True Colors or Over the Rainbow.  I recommend Shel Silverstein’s short poem- Colors; this also engages themes of our diverse, authentic colors.  Try exploring color imagery in your personal growth or clinical work – there’s gold at the end of the rainbow!


Stephen Kopp, MS, TEP


Copyright 2021


Carol Kendall, The Gammage Cup, Voyager Books, Hartcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, San Diego, NY, London, 1959  (references to Chapters 9, 26)

Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends,  Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1974  references to ‘Colors’


For information/resources on psychodrama and sociometry training, go to www.asgpp.org 

To find a trainer in psychodrama, go to www.psychodramacertification.org


Make a free website with Yola