Marriage and family therapy – Inter-psyche

Here is a quote from Moreno that has major implications for how we conduct psychodrama in groups or with individuals when they want to work on significant relationships and the other party is not present.

And the other question that flows on from this piece of wisdom from JL is how to do “re-enactment a deux”.  The phrase ‘psychodrama a deux’ when I have heard it come up has referred to doing psychodramatic psychotherapy with an individual.  This is different.  Couple therapy using psychodramatic processes is something that some of us have well developed.  What about working with a couple when both are present in a psychodrama group?

I have been exploring that question in practice.

What about when someone does a drama involving an intimate other who is not there?

What if a couple are in crisis? Do we recommend they attend a psychodrama group?

These are questions I will be addressing in a workshop at the AANZPA  conference in Brisbane in January. ‘Addressing’ here means exploring in action with colleagues.


Marriage and family therapy for instance, has to be so conducted that the “interpsyche” of the entire group is re-enacted so that all their tele-relations, their co-conscious and co-unconscious states are brought to life. Co-conscious and co-unconscious states are by definition such states which the partners have experienced and produced jointly and which can therefore be only jointly reproduced or re-enacted. A co-conscious or a co-unconscious state can not be the property of one individual only. It is always a common property and cannot be reproduced but by a combined effort. If a re-enactment of such co-conscious or co-unconscious state is desired or necessary, that re-enactment has to take place with the help of all partners involved in the episode. The logical method of such re-enactment a deux is psychodrama. However great a genius of perception one partner of the ensemble might have, he or she can not produce that episode alone because they have in common their co-conscious and co-unconscious states which are the matrix from which they drew their inspiration and knowledge.

Psychodrama Volume 1, 4th edition, page vii

What is Psychodrama?

Psychodrama is a form of therapy.  Moreno the founder of psychodrama, on page one of his seminal book: “Who Shall Survive?” spoke about a therapeutic procedure.

Clearly a therapeutic procedure that has as its objective the whole of humankind stands out as a special case of psychotherapy.  Psychodrama is a special case…

Psychodrama is a term that can cover any of the following: psychodramatic group work, a scientific approach to relationships called sociometry, group psychotherapy, dramatic explorations of society in a method called sociodrama. In its long history and development other forms were entertained… encounter, improvisation, sociatry, bibliodrama, music drama. What ties the various flavours together is the focus on relationships. Psychodrama may not be the only or best word that could describe the whole field but it has become the best known and most widely used term.

In Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand the Training & Standards Manual for Psychodrama uses the term Psychodrama generically to cover four specialities.

  • Psychodrama (the classical form of group therapy using drama and the stage)
  • Sociodrama
  • Sociometry
  • Role training

These four disciplines are interrelated and are taught to all trainees.  The specialisation that occurs is usually related to the occupation of the trainee.  Some specialties are more suited to psychotherapy and counselling, others to education and others are suited to organisational development and consulting.  All specialities can lead to work in the creative arts.

Clearly psychodrama is more than psychotherapy, it is a form of working with social change in many spheres. Psychodramatic methods have a strong focus on experiential learning and on practical methods that encourage lively expression of thought, feeling and action. Moreno was a deep thinker and prolific writer and theory and philosophy underly the work and can’t be separated from the techniques. Writing that is clinically sound and at the same time inclusive of the experience of the writer is essential to becoming qualified.  A Journal has been published by AANZPA  and is now  in its 26th year. Well over a hundred thesis have been written in Australia and New Zealand.

Psychodrama has theatre as a central mode of practice and theory. (Note how this contrasts with the origin of many other therapies in medical practice. People have used theatre to connect, to tell stories, make meaning and enliven the spirit for many centuries.  Theatre fosters a relational, holistic response to life. Group members take up the various roles of what is happening. There is an opportunity to experience all the thoughts, feelings and actions. Being able to stand back and literally see all the factors that contribute to a situation makes it possible to think, feel and take new actions. There is a freeing up of the old and an entering into new possibilities.

There is a body of theory, philosophy and knowledge that ensure sound clinical work. Here are some key concepts, some have their roots in theatre:

  • Spontaneity (The ability to have creativ and effective responses)
  • tele (the space between people, a concep used in sociometric investigations)
  • role (a holistic way of assessing relationships and human functioning)
  • the social atom (the smallest ensemble that sustains us)
  • the canon of creativity (a theory of change
  • sociometric matrix (the network in groups)
  • a theory of child and adult development
  • catharsis of integration

Psychodrama has a philosophy, a body of knowledge and a method for working
with groups and individuals that brings the complexities, the beauty, the wonder, the struggles
and the depth truth of life onto ‘the stage’.

While it is more than psychotherapy, psychodrama is a solid psychotherapeutic modality. Psychodrama qualification is a pathway to legal registration as a psychotherapist in Australia by PACFA and in Aotearoa by PBANZ.

This chart “History of Development of Psychotherapy” by Lynnette Clayton one of the pioneers in bringing psychodrama to Australia and New Zealand, shows how the work of Moreno is at the foundation of a line of psychotherapy. It has a lineage of its own, that does not go back to the inter-psychic work of Freud. Lynette calls the lineage existential.  Today many would call the method the first in a relational paradigm.  One of the difficulties is that it is was a relational method in a highly individualistic twentieth century. The need to unite in the face a threatened planet means that now is the time for psychodrama to flourish.

(click on the image to see the pdf)

There are psychotherapist and counsellors in all the cities and major towns in New Zealand who are qualified psychodramatists or who have had extensive training in psychodrama in addition to other modalities.

Many people who work with organisations have trained and qualified in sociodrama and sociometry.  Community workers, managers, educators and social worker benefit enormously from  psychodrama training.

Psychodrama Workshops 2018

I’m delighted to have plans and dates for a bunch of psychodrama events next year.  I hope you will find something of interest!

Psychodrama Weekends with Walter Logeman – Christchurch

Fri, 13 – Sun, 15 April
Fri, 31 August – Sun, 2 September

Experience psychodrama for your personal development!

Download flyer and enrolment details


Writing Retreat Mt Lyford – for Psychodrama Trainees

Fri, 25 – Sun 27 May

Writing is an essential part of psychodrama training.

Download flyer     Enrol:


Working With Couples – Professional Development – Christchurch

Christchurch Fri, 6 – Sun, 8 July 2018

This workshop will enrich your work with couples.  Also a good way to get started.

Download Flyer    Enrol:

Psychodrama Weekend with Walter Logeman

Just announced a Psychodrama Weekend.  I have conducted many psychodrama weekends and I’m pleased to have warmed up to something new for this one.

As I become more steeped in the relational paradigm everything becomes more relational. While not a workshop specifically for couples this one is “couple friendly”.  I’m conscious how important this is, not just in the flyer but in the actual way I will conduct the group. The relationship is the “third entity”. The relationship can be the protagonist.  And if one partner is the protagonist then there is a specific focus on the other partner as auxiliary.
A small change? Not really.  This is a small expression of a major phenomenon. “Personal Development” is the word we use for these types of workshops. Moreno may never have called them that, he used the word encounter and was always focussing on the relationships more than “the self”.
Any relationship could be the protagonist. Is that what love stories are?  Movies about a couple?  Maybe.  Maybe it is not such a new genre? Love relationships are not any relationship though and there is a qualitative difference between an intimate loving committed relationship and all the rest.  Parent child is another form of relationship that stands out as quite distinct.
As a psychodrama director I am learning new skills.  How to direct a relational drama, where both people are present as themselves.  That is an exploration that I’m right into at the moment.
On NZAP here.
On Meetup here.

May we have good fortune

In a technological era like ours, the fate and future of the spontaneity principle as a major pattern of culture and living may depend on good fortune in tying it up with technological devices.

Moreno Psychodrama v. 1 p. 403


Back online

I had to do a big thing.  The whole of this blog was corrupted.  Nothing.  With long guides about how to reinstall and reconnect to the database I did it.

I was scared of loosing this.  I realise how much I love it when it is gone.  Like Christchurch after the earthquake – I was not really home here in Christchurch till now when it is just a mess.

Pleased to see my post about wisdom & consciousness come up.  How against the grain that is!  I wonder why so may of the people I know who are “idealist in the philosophical sense” don’t dispute my outrageous claims against the received wisdom that is the engine that drives psychotherapy and pretty much all of self help and liberal politics.

Never mind…  I’m saying nothing original, just marxism and Moreno stuff that no-one seems to get.  I’m curious…  is this important?   I don’t think liberal tolerance of liberal ideas is a healthy thing.  But then it does not really matter… that is the point, reality will win out no matter what stories we tell.

Bear with my reflections…

The ideology does not matter, but being in touch with what reality is up to…  that does matter.  Who can really figure What is to be done at this time? Wishful thinking wont help much.


Anyway, pleased the blog is back

Later, Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”


“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”


… every culture is characterized by a certain set of roles which it imposes with a varying degree of success upon its membership.

Moreno Who Shall Survive? p. 88


Two forms of the cultural conserve are referred to in my writings: the technological conserve, as books, motion pictures, robots, and the “human” conserve, the conserve which uses the human organism for its vehicle.

Psychodrama v. 1 p. 123


Disturbing motives

Love the work of Austin Kleon – this is an image from his 2018 Calendar 

If  “the focal conflict model” could be described in a picture, this is it.   The black abyss shows the depth of the concept, and “We” that it is often something we share.  The group is larger than the sum of its parts and can have its own disturbing motives.

Here is a link to the original analytic paper about these matters.

Guilt, Shame, and Other Reactive Motives — Thomas M. French