Who Owns Psychodrama?
Following the debate between ASAGPP members (and discussed in the article in most recent article in Tele) Dr. Rebecca Ridge wrote to me:
Regarding the article about Dr. Bessel van der Kolk MD in the New York Times, there have
been some strong reactions amongst psychodramatists, some of whom have taken issue with
Bessel, believing he is subtly referencing psychodrama but not giving credit to psychodrama.
Some psychodramatists have been concerned about Dr. van der Kolk's language which
seems to describe a version of psychodrama. However this is not what he is referencing,
rather what he is describing and implementing is another therapeutic method created by Al
Pesso who teaches Psychomotor Therapy. I would like to qualify a few points having also
taken workshops with Al Pesso, whose work is called Psychomotor Therapy. This is not
psychodrama. It’s more neuro drama with Pesso, the facilitator, being the one to choose the
auxiliaries for the roles and then he carefully and astutely feeds them with their lines, telling them what is appropriate to say to the protagonist. It is a much more 'controlled' form of therapy with the intention of actually changing the brain’s patterns and reconstructing a person's interpretations of their conflicted history.
Pesso, who teaches internationally, has written a number of articles about "filling the holes in the roles". I have seen him in action and his work is very powerful and effective in shifting a person's narrative and also changing explicit and implicit memory. However he does not call it psychodrama. In fact there is no sharing at the end of a 'structure' so that the person can quietly absorb and shift their new awareness.
Pesso has a true gift with how he works the group and the therapeutic process. Bessel
trained with Pesso and from what I have heard from Bessel he found it easier to learn this
therapy than psychodrama which takes years to learn. I didn't hear Bessel saying he does
psychodrama from the article; he was specifically speaking about psychomotor therapy. As
we all know there are many ways to work with clients. The good and best thing about Bessel
is that as a psychiatrist he has gone outside his paradigm and become so supportive of many
other therapies including EMDR, Mindfulness training and yoga for trauma. He totally
understands that we must work through the body for true change and healing to take place,
For the past 3 years he has been giving joint workshops with Peter Levine at Esalen working
collaboratively with new developments in trauma and abuse.
I believe this is the new essence that we are all integrating from so many sources. Lucky for
us as psychodramatists that we are able to draw from all these resources and include them in
an integrative way with our psychodramatic work, I sure do. Body Alchemy is all about the
bodymind and integration of neuroscience, somatic therapies with the whole self.
I think this article gives some good exposure to the vast number of therapies that now work
with trauma. Psychodrama, in the well trained hands of professionals can be another
wonderful choice for treating trauma, abuse and neglect. In this century most folks are
integrating and merging disciplines to get the best results. I believe so strongly in a mutual
shared learning and engaging with each other. Bessel is a great spokesperson, a resilient
pioneer and risk taker, a warm -hearted therapist and he has a broad audience. He's also one
of the most humble experts I have ever met. I for one would like to be in collaboration with
him. Isn't it great he supports our work and is so inclusive?
Thanks for listening
Dr. Becky Ridge PhD, TEP, Integrative bodymind therapist.
We are privileged that Becky is presenting the following workshop at our conference
The Body Alchemy of Sociometry: Invoking the parasympathetic response for group
The process of body alchemy combines relational neuroscience with various somatic
therapies that help to fine tune the nervous system and encourage a parasympathetic
response in the body /mind of the group. By creating a biological entrainment with
craniosacral therapy and mindfulness breathing, while attuning to the various biorhythms, a
psychodrama director and/or group facilitator can positively influence the sociometry of group
dynamics. Facilitators can effectively create an embodied sociometry and a stronger telic
response that supportively builds greater cohesion and trust within a group. Embodied trust
between group members enhances relationship the repair with self and others. In an
environment that embraces a more relaxed nervous system, therapists create an enriched
foundation for deeper psychological repair and healing. Body alchemy is the process of
releasing the dross of emotional and physical wounding in the psychodramatic alchemical
fires of transformation. It restores the body, mind and spirit within the individual and the
community. Thus empowered, each person is strengthened with a greater sense of self,
creativity and an integrated nervous system. They are better prepared for life’s challenges.
This is an experiential training workshop.
Take this one-off opportunity to meet with Becky (or indeed to attend her workshop) at this exciting
international conference which will bring together senior psychodramatists and experts from other
schools of therapy from every continent.
Paul Holmes Blog Editor
PS Well not Antarctica as far as I know unless a few penguins gate-crash