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Adam Blatner, M.D.
(Revised June 19, 2002)


Psychodrama is a method for helping people explore psychological and social situations, considering more constructive alternatives, and becoming more creative in general. It's kind of like a laboratory, only with the techniques derived from the theater instead of specialized glassware, electronic equipment, 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: The 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 integrative of reason and compassion, and more willing to re-think all kinds of situations, relinquishing tendencies to rely on cultural conserves, and committing to more spontaneity and creativity. These qualities may be cultivated in 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 operations generate a familiarity with a mode of thinking that goes beyond what conventional 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 method. It's more than just using it to do psychotherapy or consult to businesses-- we need to teach people to learn how to use these techniques themselves, even just a little bit at a time. I envision parents learning how to get 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 really 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 empathic and communicating this more effectively to those they care about. Groups 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 be useful for teenagers in dealing with the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in school?

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 our national organization, or the psychodrama organizations in whatever country you live. Make it a point to attend the national conference, and maybe also a regional conference or one of the international conferences! Write papers about what you've discovered!  Get on the internet and check out the various websites that have opened up. Join one of the listservices, on psychodrama ("Grouptalk"), sociodrama or drama therapy. Make bridges with other professional organizations and other field. Open up a website 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 in business, professional training, developing "people skills," in education, spiritual development, community building, promoting political awareness, as a form of socially relevant and healing theatre, etc. I'm especially intrigued with the way dramatic approaches can enhance the activities of social and emotional learning in the schools and for older folks, be used to promote a sense of personal meaning in life. Share with us how you're 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 needed. 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 politically do so because of vaguely sinister or characterologically distorted power needs. As I say, check that--it may well be a projection! Why else would someone make the sacrifices needed to mix it up politically? Because mature 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 writes you a letter, answer it! Don't indulge yourself in the illusion that you're 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 about it. Only through union can there be strength. Professional identity--being 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. (That's one of the trials of being a pioneer with a relatively unfamiliar method.)

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.

Other Ideas

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 other 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 that I'm wanting you to make suggestions about how I can improve this website!  Email me.)

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 sense 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 directory, so that you can put together a face with the name. Sometimes I forget names, and hey, sometimes I even forget faces. I've initiated an effort in this 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 anyone 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 Health Resources, a book service that comes to not only the national psychodrama conference, but also the drama therapy conference. Check them out for resources.

Encourage people to read some of the recently published books in the field. Good stuff is coming out! See my file on this website and suggest corrections.

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 in 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 circulation.

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 International Journal of Action Methods, the Arts in Psychotherapy, the Journal of the British Psychodrama Association, and journals in Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, etc.

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 technique, write it up in detail. Role reverse with your readers, imagining yourself when you were only involved in the field for a year or two, what you might have read that could have helped you. (That's what I did in writing Acting-In 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 inspire, 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 authorship.

Keep in mind how much the world needs these tools, how people really need access to knowing how to role reverse, become more empathic, develop spontaneity, utilize their imaginations more effectively, and a score of 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 nobility of having been graced with a particularly rich heritage--a group of ideas and techniques that are really noble indeed, loving, promoting of responsibility, 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 countries. In many ways, the work overseas has surpassed the productivity of our own country's community.

Accept what Rudolf Dreikurs, the noted Adlerian, called "the courage to be imperfect." Give yourself permission to become involved without feeling 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 possible--building programs and doing all the thousand little things involved in making anything happen--often requires mainly initiative and what Woody Allen said: "Eighty per cent of life is just showing up."

For responses, email me at ablatner@aol.com

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