AN OPEN LETTER TO PSYCHODRAMATISTS
(Posted first around June, 2002; Revised more recently April,
Comments on Receiving the David A. Kipper Scholar's Award (for the
What I'll be saying in this part of the
webpage: (1) Scholarship is needed. (2) There are ways you can
make it easier on yourself to participate in this way. (3) About
Awards: You may participate more actively in supporting the process of
giving and accepting recognition in a professional and social
organization. And (4): Let’s recognize the multi-dimensional nature of
our work: It’s bigger than psychodrama, it’s bigger than therapy, and
it needs to be better integrated with other approaches, which might
involve a measure of surrender of some of our traditional attachments.
Scholarship is a general category that involves multiple roles:
Writing articles for our newly re-started Journal of Group
Psychotherapy, Psychodrama & Sociometry
If you get back a request to revise, please
don’t take it as a rejection. Most articles that get published need to
be revised, and not just once, but several times. This has been true
for me as well as others.
Be available to write or co-write or help with
the writing of chapters, books, papers on one’s website. If you have
some papers posted on your website, let us know about it. If you don’t,
consider writing some things about special applications, modifications
of technique, or integrations with other approaches. .
Correspond with others via email or other media.
Participate in editing, helping others, giving
feedback, making suggestions.
Support the dissemination of others’ books, news of
new books, efforts at making the libraries of sets of old journals or
psychodrama materials available anew.
And so forth—I want to encourage folks to do
this more, because a body of literature is one of the signs of vitality
of a field. Frankly, our field has become somewhat marginalized and
renewed efforts at making a place for ourselves will require more work
in the form of literature. I know you’re all doing action stuff, but
that may not be enough to sustain our viability as a sub-field.
At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776,
Benjamin Franklin is said to have said, “We must all hang together, or
assuredly we shall all hang separately.” I think our field is in a
perilous state for a variety of reasons, competition with the continued
emergence of other approaches being a prominent one. It seems to me
that in the economic recession, people have become too busy to write up
their experiences. It’s become a low priority, and busy-ness, making
money, supervising and teaching, other most worthy activities, become
higher priorities. Far be it for me to have the right to criticize, but
perhaps I can question. Because of a lack of writing up and submitting
material, we have lost the support of our past publisher and our ASGPP
journal. Efforts are now being made to resuscitate a comparable
journal, to get the developments and creativity that’s happening in our
field back into the open market of ideas.
I want to use this opportunity simply to speak up for scholarship, for
not only doing research and reading what others have done, but for
spreading these discoveries, for networking, for sharing what you have
created. Creativity, so dear to our hearts as a principle, requires
also the creativity to spread the word. We can be the light, and it’s
equally important to reflect the light, to actively share with others
what others have created that you find useful. That’s an extension of
Sharing your creativity is itself a different kind of creativity, it
requires the skills of writing and editing. Now here’s the good news:
You don’t have to do it alone. There are ways of getting help, of
asking others to share in the task. If writing isn’t a strength, pair
up with someone who enjoys using this skill and does it fairly well.
Become a co-author. Folks in academia do it all the time. What’s
important is to get the word out.
Another strategy: Write a draft, find a confidante who will give frank
feedback, send the imperfect document to that person via email. Have
that person respond with questions and encouragement. Reiterate the
process, perhaps several times, each occasion getting closer to the
Remember that there are folks out there who hunger for new techniques,
ideas, insights, reflections, support, and the other values that can be
obtained from a journal. Cross over and write for other organizations’
The Multi-Dimensionality of Our Field
As I said in San Antonio in 2008 and also in an article in the Journal
two years ago, and also elsewhere on this website, I think we’ll do
better by recognizing that Moreno created about ten or fifteen separate
innovations that, although they can be used synergistically,
nevertheless need not be kept in a single package. I think our field
will expand in its influence by opening more to the inter-disciplinary
trends in culture, and by offering this or that aspect of Moreno’s work
and our own innovations separately to a more diversified range of
populations—not just in the domain of therapy, but also in education
and other social contexts.
One thing I’m proud of is that I’ve also diversified, addressing not
just psychodrama, but such themes as ritual and ceremonies,
meta-theory, the broader range of types of applied theatre,
applications of sociodrama in education, re-thinking sociometry as a
type of depth psychology, extending philosophical and even theological
implications of creativity, re-thinking the nature and possible
applications of psychodramatic methods as applied to recreation and the
Art of Play, and so forth. I continue to discover further implications
and applications for Moreno’s genius, including an appreciation of the
nature of “having” a genius—that is, developing a clearer access to the
inner forces of creativity—whether or not one has the extraordinary
abilities associated with being a genius.
Please check out my website. I have much to say to you that can’t fit
into the time constraints of this awards ceremony, and it may work
better for you to partake of these ideas at your leisure and according
to your feeling ready to do so.
. I hope to use this opportunity, first,
to say that I’ve made a lot of reading material available and I hope
you take advantage of it. I would like to have every trainer tell their
students to make use of the free resources noted on my different
websites. Of course I hope y’all will buy my books, or at least ask
your local university and public libraries to order and stock them.
That’s easy enough to do.
Second, of course, I want to encourage scholarship by all of you, and
what I mean by that is pretty simple. I hope that trainers will ask
their trainees to read more, gather and integrate the basic information
needed, have more didactic and discussion session. I hope trainees
realize more vividly that you can attend a million hours of workshops
and still learn relatively little about the theory behind psychodrama,
and about where our method fits within the bigger pictures of other
therapies, other approaches to psychological and social change in
Third, write! Our journal was cancelled in late 2007 because
everyone believed that other people would do enough. It has just been
re-started with a new publisher. The field will die if you
personally don’t take on some responsibility not only for you to make a
living for yourself, but to delegate at least some time for giving to
the field. If you don’t write, network, encourage, mentor, participate
in local and national professional politics, make bridges to other
fields—there are lots of things that need to be done.
On my website on the webpage about open letter to psychodramatists I
have these words and also some practical hints as to how to get help in
getting your ideas into writing, such as seeking a colleague who likes
to write and co-authoring a paper. She gets credit for her part, you
get credit for yours.
Please think about those in your network who might merits an ASGPP
award of some kind, perhaps recognition with a Fellowship if they
haven’t yet been so noted, and nominate that person. Check on this website
to see who else has gotten an
check the ASGPP website
What about you? If you have indeed been giving of yourself to the
field, has anyone noticed? Don’t assume they have. Tell them. Ask them
to nominate you. Give them the what you’ve done and when data so they
don’t have to read your mind—give them the ammunition to work with.
Take a little time out do make sure recognition is being given to those
who give of themselves.
Again, please don’t assume that others have taken care of matters
adequately: Check the list of who has gotten which awards. Notice who
has been left out, or left behind.
Promote Networking: Find out who lives in your area and who has seemed
to have dropped out. See what would help in luring them back in. Ask
them. Remind them of major changes in leadership.
In Summary, the world needs these tools and no one but you can help
bring these tools to other non-psychodrama therapists, teachers,
managers, leaders, and all sorts of people. Moreno produced not just
psychodrama, but other approaches that can be used even without
training as a mental health professional. Indeed, those applications
beyond the medical model may be the most important approaches! Since
you know about these tools, the world needs you!
You may well bring to the knowledge of
Morenian methods and ideas some background in other fields. Let your
unique blend of interests generate new ideas, revisions, modifications,
Psychodrama is a method for helping
people explore psychological and social
situations, considering more constructive alternatives, and becoming
creative in general. It's kind of like a laboratory, only with the
derived from the theater instead of specialized glassware, electronic
chemicals, etc. I think it's the best single group of tools for helping
the world engage what I see as the challenge of the next century:
conscious, intentional transformation of consciousness itself.
I believe an increasing segment of the
population needs to learn how
to become more flexible, more imaginative, more reflective, more
of reason and compassion, and more willing to re-think all kinds of
relinquishing tendencies to rely on cultural conserves, and committing
to more spontaneity and creativity. These qualities may be cultivated
part by learning the components of psychodrama, shifting and reversing
roles, learning to double and to reach beyond the superficial levels of
talking about feelings, considering scenes of what could be, how things
might be played differently, etc. Such mental and interpersonal
generate a familiarity with a mode of thinking that goes beyond what
forms of education have taught.
Therefore, to those of you who have
become familiar with this method,
THE WORLD NEEDS YOU ! We need to seek to spread this
It's more than just using it to do psychotherapy or consult to
we need to teach people to learn how to use these techniques
even just a little bit at a time. I envision parents learning how to
involved in playing with their children, using techniques of warming-up
and spontaneity development. (Imaginative play is also the best way to
bond with kids so that discipline follows more naturally: When kids
enjoy being with their folks, they don't want their folks to be unhappy
with them.) I imagine parents and spouses and friends becoming more
and communicating this more effectively to those they care about.
that know about tele and some of the principles of sociometry begin to
more actively deal with their own group dynamics--how much might this
useful for teenagers in dealing with the dynamics of inclusion and
One of the implications of these ideas is
that we need to work together,
compare notes, share how we're being creative. That requires joining
national organization, or the psychodrama organizations in whatever
you live. Make it a point to attend the national conference, and maybe
also a regional conference or one of the international conferences!
papers about what you've discovered! Get on the internet and
out the various websites that have opened up. Join one of the
on psychodrama ("Grouptalk"), sociodrama or drama therapy. Make bridges
with other professional organizations and other field. Open up a
of your own, and publish your own papers.
Psychodrama needs to be recognized as
being more than just a powerful
method for psychotherapy. It can be modified so that it's very useful
business, professional training, developing "people skills," in
spiritual development, community building, promoting political
as a form of socially relevant and healing theatre, etc. I'm especially
intrigued with the way dramatic approaches can enhance the activities
social and emotional learning in the schools and for older folks, be
to promote a sense of personal meaning in life. Share with us how
creating new variations and modifications. (It's not an orthodoxy with
boundaries that mustn't be breached.)
Get involved organizationally. It's still
small enough of a field, in
spite of significant growth internationally, so that your efforts are
Without them, it could very well collapse. If you aren't satisfied with
how things are being run, get involved and change them. Be aware of the
temptation to project the fantasy that those who do get involved
do so because of vaguely sinister or characterologically distorted
needs. As I say, check that--it may well be a projection! Why else
someone make the sacrifices needed to mix it up politically? Because
adults realize that if we don't help it happen, it won't happen. Join!
Write papers! Communicate via the internet and email! If somebody
you a letter, answer it! Don't indulge yourself in the illusion that
not needed--you are needed! And you have so much to offer! There aren't
that many of us and the world is a big place.
Join the ASGPP
and encourage your
colleagues and students to join. If they've dropped out, talk to them
it. Only through union can there be strength. Professional
recognized by others--requires such an organizational center. It's also
the way to be with those who understand what you're talking about, and,
if you dare to share yourself, will appreciate what you're doing.
one of the trials of being a pioneer with a relatively unfamiliar
Check out the International Association
of Group Psychotherapy (IAGP),
and if you want to see their webpage, check this link to the International
Psychodrama Network webpage or the International
Association of Group Psychotherapy webpage.
Here are some suggestions:
Make a website. Put on it what you want
to people to know about you,
so they can find you on the internet. This is a new form of what Moreno
called "sociometry," allowing people greater freedom to choose each
according to natural preferences.
Give feedback to others about their
websites and invite feedback on
your own. Make revisions according to that feedback. (This also means
I'm wanting you to make suggestions about how I can improve this
Using the internet this way, as a tool
for group cohesion, also expands
your "acquaintance volume" and fosters connections--at first, based on
finding your shared interests, "sociotelic" networking; and then, when
you find some folks with whom you can have a lively exchange and you
a personal rapport, some of these become "psyche-telic" connections.
Another way for developing a sense of
connectedness and community, apart
from attending conferences, is through the development of a photo
so that you can put together a face with the name. Sometimes I forget
and hey, sometimes I even forget faces. I've initiated an effort in
direction, sending a diskette of scanned on photos to a colleague who's
beginning to create a CD-ROM directory. We could use more help from
out there who also wants to foster this kind of group cohesion. (Email
me if you're interested in helping.)
Other projects might include your helping
to find hard-to-obtain books
or creating local lending libraries. Over the last few years, the ASGPP
has built a relationship with Mental
Resources, a book service that comes to not only the national
conference, but also the drama therapy conference. Check them out for
Encourage people to read some of the recently
published books in the field. Good stuff is coming out! Check out
the link mentioned and if you become aware of the need for corrections,
please let me know!
Check your local used book stores, and if
you find psychodrama-related
books, as I occasionally have, buy them and re-sell them so they stay
circulation. Similarly, try to get books from those who are retiring or
who have died and re-sell them, donate them, etc., to keep them in
Write Papers and Submit
Them for Publication
About the challenge of writing for one
of the professional journals: There
are several published in other countries, also-- and in many fields, if
one journal doesn't accept an article, the author submits it to another
journal. Do not be discouraged!
There is the Journal of Group Psychotherapy,
Psychodrama & Sociometry; the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health;
in Psychotherapy, the Journal of the British Psychodrama
and journals in Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Australia/New
So write up your experiences! If you
present to a conference, write
up what you do.
If you work with a special population,
write at least a brief report
about what you've found works and what doesn't. If you modify a
write it up in detail. Role reverse with your readers, imagining
when you were only involved in the field for a year or two, what you
have read that could have helped you. (That's what I did in writing
back in 1971-2).
Don't worry about the editors acting as
judges--that's a residue of
your school years. Instead, imagine your readers, how much you may
inform, perhaps even provoke them a little.
Find muses, ask your social network to
support you, find allies, ask
them to read your paper and make suggestions, use those suggestions, be
prepared to re-write. If you are a good action person but hate writing,
use a collaborator. Dictate ideas, have someone write them down, share
Keep in mind how much the world needs
these tools, how people really
need access to knowing how to role reverse, become more empathic,
spontaneity, utilize their imaginations more effectively, and a score
other skills that psychodramatists come to take for granted. Recognize
that we are a small, pioneering band, and there just isn't anyone else
who can deliver this stuff to the next generation. The motto, "Noblesse
Oblige" refers to the obligations of those favored by fate. We have a
of having been graced with a particularly rich heritage--a group of
and techniques that are really noble indeed, loving, promoting of
etc. So Write! Our journals need materials!
If you can, translate articles from other
languages. Travel internationally
to teach. Learn from the vital and stimulating developments in other
In many ways, the work overseas has surpassed the productivity of our
Accept what Rudolf Dreikurs, the noted
Adlerian, called "the courage
to be imperfect." Give yourself permission to become involved without
that you need to have as much formal education and training as it seems
others have. In the realm of politics--i.e., the art of the
programs and doing all the thousand little things involved in making
happen--often requires mainly initiative and what Woody Allen said:
per cent of life is just showing up."