The first quarter of 2021 has passed by like a whirlwind! What will the rest of 2021 bring?
In February, I received exciting news from the American Board of Examiners (ABE) that I had passed my psychodrama exams and am now a Certified Psychodramatist by the ABE. Being the first fully qualified Psychodramatist in Singapore certified by the ABE has been a long journey. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the years of my own growth as a director of psychodramas and of group psychotherapy. I recently also received news that I am now a PAT or Practice as Trainer. This opens more doors for me to give out psychodrama training hours that can count toward certification with the ABE!! So, look out! Our training program towards certification as Experiential Facilitators and Psychodramatist is in the pipeline! I will start running short training workshops in which you can start accumulating your hours sometime soon!
In the meantime, keep coming for our Personal growth groups so you get to do your own work and experience the action method of psychodrama in more depth.
After having our first in-person Open Session in January, we ran a Personal Growth Group that comprised of mostly counsellors and facilitators. Many psychodramas were done on various themes including Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac animals. We thought about which animal we would prefer to be and had some hilarious fun!
Following this we started a Womenâ€™s group called â€œDisarming My Inner Criticâ€. The 6 week group is almost finished and we plan to run another one beginning in May. Having women of all ages in the group has been a real gift as mothers in the group gain perspective from younger women who have them play the role of daughters. The healing in the group has been amazing to witness. Do join us for the next one starting on 22 Apr – â€œReady Set Glowâ€.
Our Open sessions have been held monthly with the participation of people from all walks of life. Our last one was fully subscribed and we had to start a waiting list as spaces are limited due to Covid-19 restrictions. We have 2 bottles of sanitizer in the room, tissues and wipes, as well as extra masks in case people need a fresh one. All the necessary precautions are being taken to ensure we all stay safe! Join us or tell your friends about it!
The pandemic changed the way I run groups and has called on me for greater spontaneity and resilience.Â What I took so much for granted has become a luxury today.Â Having large groups in a room, smilling about and shaking hands is a sweet memory from a day I hope will return someday.Â
This year in January 2021, we began our first group in Singapore after the number of cases dropped and the situation remained fairly stable. We were allowed a total of eight (8) people in the room, including myself. With two large bottles of sanitizer and a box of disposable masks, we began our first session. We sat one meter apart (roughly 39 inches), and began with introductions. So how do group members see each other and have connection with faces obscured by masks and social distancing creating further separation?
With only eyes exposed and body language to read, the power of tele still is at work.
Tele, a term coined by Jacob Moreno, is referred to by him as the invisible connection that flows between two people. Ann Hale, in her book, *â€˜Conducting Clinical Sociometric Explorationsâ€™, states Morenoâ€™s definition of it as, â€˜insight intoâ€™, â€˜appreciation ofâ€™, and â€˜feeling forâ€™, the â€˜actual makeupâ€™ of the other person. Most of us have experienced â€˜teleâ€™. That inexplicable feeling that you â€˜clickâ€™ with someone after talking for a short time. Often it starts before you meet, when you see each other across a room and know that you would like to meet this person. It is that intangible element that attracts people to each other and starts the process of communication. These connections between people were observed by Moreno who began to map them out in his studies of social networks. This study of connections between people he termed as Sociometry from the Latin root words â€œsociusâ€™ for companion and â€˜metrumâ€™ for measurement.
Planning the sessions, I always begin with Sociometry. As Ann Hale says Sociometryâ€™s purpose is to reveal information about group members and to show, â€œâ€¦ the connections which exist between group members.â€ Shared experiences people have are discovered as we do warmups such as â€˜Polaritiesâ€™, Locograms, Spectograms and other sociometric structures. These exercises get people moving and into their bodies, thereby assisting them to access their spontaneity more easily.
Sociometry includes having people choose based on certain criterion with a view that the choice will lead to an action. For example, asking the group, â€œWho would you like to have lunch with later today?â€, means that their choices will be followed by them having lunch with the person they chose. Thus tele comes into play as people make choices. The work of a group leader is then to pick warm up exercises that help to reveal more about each individual so that each group member has a higher likelihood of being chosen by others. So the outliers who are shy reveal surprising details about their lives and interests that make them more attractive as choices to others in the group. This has the power to often re-distribute the attention from the most chosen person in the group to others, thereby creating more inclusion and group cohesion.
During one of our sessions the protagonist chose someone to play her younger self, feeling ashamed that she couldnâ€™t understand the language everyone else was speaking in the pre-school. She felt alone and that nobody was going to help her. After the drama, the auxillary she chose shared a story about how she had also been shamed for not being able to speak the language in pre-school and was still carrying the trauma and shame. The person the protagonist had chosen to play the teacher, shared that he comes from a long line of teachers which was why he could take on the role so easily. This all came as a surprise to the protagonist who had no idea about the backgrounds of these two group members, but she acted on her sense of connection and insight into the makeup of people in the group.
In another session, a woman who was doing a drama about her mother chose someone who had a mother with similar issues. This was not known to the protagonist and during the sharing, the auxilary spoke about having a similar mother who was clinically depressed and stayed in her room all the time just like that of the protagonist. She was able to play the role so well because it was so familiar to her! Many such â€˜coincidencesâ€™ have led me to consider tele as an almost intuitive knowing that we each have within us. This knowing seems to be activated by our spontaneity as we go with the flow. There is almost an existential aspect to it which echoes Morenoâ€™s theory that we are all connected via the universal consciousness of the â€˜Godheadâ€™, as he put it.
As I look back on these sessions, I am once again blown away by the power of the action method of psychodrama and sociometry. Using it to build the group, I see how true Ann Haleâ€™s words are when she says Sociometry is â€œâ€¦a methodological necessity for the conscientious group leaderâ€¦â€. I echo this sentiment as I lean on sociometry to build connections far beyond what the eye can see!
*Hale, Ann E. (1981). Conducting clinical sociometric explorations. Royal Publishing Company: Roanoke, Virginia.
Time has flown by this year and we hope it’s been a year of discovery and enlightenment for you – but if it hasn’t, no worries!
We’ve lined up some great events for you to close off 2019 with a skip in your step!
Personal Growth Group: Rising Above II (5 Weeks)
Our Personal Growth Groups will use psychodrama which employs a combination of experiential methods â€“ sociometry, role theory, and group dynamics â€“ to facilitate insight, personal growth, spontaneity, self-discovery, and integration of the mind, body and emotions.
Experience the fun and spontaneity of working together in a group of individuals from all walks of life. Participants will be given the opportunity to explore their own Psychodrama in this group within the 5 sessions.
Places are limited to 8 individuals for this group with 5 consecutive weekly sessions starting 22 November 2019, every Friday from 7.00pm to 9.30pm.
Schedule*: â€“ 22 November 2019 â€“ 29 November 2019 â€“ 6 December 2019 â€“ 13 December 2019 â€“ 20 December 2019 *subject to change
Standard: SG $250.00
*Open Sessions are a prerequisite for first-timers intending to join Personal Growth Groups.
This workshop will equip you to engage your group members in activities that will promote spontaneity and deeper sharing; that goes beyond talk therapy. Participants will learn how to warm their groups up and to facilitate lively role playing and group participation.
poem quoted by JL Moreno is an illustration of the concept of role reversal in
When someone steps forward and says â€˜yesâ€™ to being spontaneous and thereby to being creative, they are open to the possibilities of changing perspectives.
Iâ€™ve directed Psychodramas over the years, I have come to see the Psychodrama Stage
as a laboratory where the protagonist experiments with different possibilities
and outcomes. Relationships are explored and as role reversal takes place, the protagonist
gets to experience the Other and the psyche of the Other that lives in them.
We all have a version of our Mother, our Father, our sibling, our enemy that lives in us. This version when brought on the stage gets concretized (or made concrete/ real) by the use of another group member who takes on the role as an Auxillary. As the protagonist reverses roles and takes on the role of the Other, he or she can then take on the posture, speech style and warm up to being that Other person. Their version emerges and the encounter with the Auxillary playing them takes place. They then reverse roles and the Auxillary (as the Other) will repeat what has been said and the protagonist experiences a dialogue with the Other. This goes on with several role reversals until the Protagonistâ€™s purpose has been achieved with the Director.
experiencing of a different perspective engages empathy and deepens
understanding of the Other. Moreno called this the Encounter.
poem quoted is from his seminal book â€œWho Shall Surviveâ€.
As 2018 is rapidly flying by I feel itâ€™s important to look at several aspects of our work at Psychodrama Singapore and some of the groups we have run here in the past 12 months in 2017.
On Going Personal Growth Groups
Well for one, we ran several ongoing groups which has tapped a great thirst for more psychodrama and greater connection with other fellow human beings.
So far 4 ongoing groups have run and each weekly group ran for an average of 6 weeks. These group members have had the opportunity to experience full Psychodramas and to have the experience of being in a group that works towards developing progressive ways of living and being.
I Donâ€™t Wanna, You Canâ€™t Make Me
Another highlight of 2017 has been the training in Singapore by Rebecca Walters TEP from Hudson Valley Psychodrama Institute (HVPI) in October. 18 people from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia attended the training.Â The workshop brought together counsellors, therapists, psychologists, and a psychiatrist to learn some psychodrama tools to better engage resistant clients.
Â MOE Counsellor Training
We were also engaged to run workshops on using experiential methods in running groups for primary and secondary school students. Counsellors who attended found themselves inspired and equipped with new ideas to capture the attention of their kids.
Workshops for Groups/ Higher learning institutes
We were also engaged to run group building session for some of the classes in La Salle for first year students. It was wonderful to see students come alive.Â SIT engaged us to run a workshop on communication and NYP had us run training on addictions and families. Using experiential methods especially Psychodrama, Sociodrama, Role training and Sociometry helped anchor the learning in participants as they took it in holistically. We also ran Sociodrama for children living in a shelter for victims of domestic violence.Â Much fun and laughter as well as deep sharing ensued with people feeling understood and seen.
Our Open sessions for 2017 were well attended and several attendees signed up for the ongoing groups to get a deeper experience of Psychodrama. Our last Open session of the year was â€˜Taking Stockâ€™ and was filled with lots of gratitude and new resolve.
As we go into 2018, a time of reflection and refocusing on what is progressive and not so helpful, we invite you to sign up for the First Open session of the year entitled â€˜Into Actionâ€™.Â Come get your spontaneity groove on and be with us as we take a look at what 2018 holds for us and our wishes for the new year!
As I mentioned in my first article, the phrase,”reverse roles” was very much what I heard at my first psychodrama workshop. As this was uttered by the group leader, two people on the stage switched places and began playing the opposite role.
Â “This is it! “, I thought as I began to think of how I could use it in my work. Get people to reverse roles and voila! Well I was sorely mistaken those many years ago. As I began to explore this fascinating form of group work I discovered several techniques that are used in Psychodrama. Here are two key techniques used and an example of how I used them.Â
Here the Protagonist says a few words in the role of a particular ‘character’ or entity in their drama. The Auxiliary then says these lines to the Protagonist who is in the complimentary role.Â
In this technique, objects and people are used to represent the scenario the Protagonist wishes to explore.
A Drama using Role reversal and Concretization
Ken is aged 19, and has a serious problem with drugs and alcohol which he has managed to stop after going to the alcohol treatment centre.Â He had just come out of Rehab in the United Kingdom and was brought to my practice by his concerned father.Â His father has tried very hard to help him over the years and has now brought Ken to us at Promises. Ken is worried about going out for dinner with his Father and a family Friend, whom we shall call Andy, because he might be tempted to drink again.
I encourage him to enact a scene at dinner with his father and Andy, playing out what he expects to happen.Â He sets out the chairs and chooses two people in the group to be his Father and Andy. As he greets the two older men rather lethargically, his shoulders slouch and he speaks in a flat voice.
Reversing roles, Ken now plays the part of Andy. He perks up now, smiling and full of energy. â€˜Andyâ€™ says, â€œThe last time I saw you Ken, you were a small boy. My how youâ€™ve grown!â€ Playing the role of his tempter, he urges Ken to â€œhave a drink now as a real manâ€ holding a glass towards him.
Back to being himself after another role reversalÂ Kenâ€™sÂ face reddens and he clenches his fists in agitation. Â He speaks to me as the Director, saying that he is afraid he might have a relapse. I immediately ask him to take on the role of his father.
As his father, he sits with his arms crossed and says through clenched teeth,Â â€œItâ€™s Ok, you donâ€™t have to drink. I donâ€™t want to cause a relapse.â€ As himself, Ken is at a loss for words. I ask the other audience members to do some modeling and try different responses in the role of Ken as he watches.
Ken cheers up as he sees the other group members rising to the occasion. Everyone is animated as they get a chance to act the part and try to tell Andy off. There is much laughter and hilarity as people do and say whatever they think might work.Â A sort of role training session is underway.
Ken is noticeably inspired by the group andÂ heÂ chooses one response. He stands tall with a cheeky smile and says to Andy, â€œIâ€™m not drinking today, and I wonder why you are so determined to force alcohol on me!â€ Â In role reversal as Andy, he changes the subject and backs down, no longer the magnanimous host. The drama ends. Ken is no longer a deflated doomsday worry wart. Instead he is positive about going out for dinner and knows what he can do later that night at dinner.Â The group has come to his aid and I once again marvel at the magic of Psychodrama.
In future articles, I shall illustrate more psychodrama techniques with dramas I have directed. It continues to be a privilege to be allowed into the lives of group members and I am continually amazed at the transformations that happen.