Therapeutic Tele

I found a few pages in Psychodrama Vol I by J.L Moreno – I think this item was written well before 77 when the book came out – a Symposium in the 40s?

Moreno talks of the individual locus of physical ailments.  There is another locus for psychological work, the relationship.

Then he gets really radical.  The relationships in life are therapeutic.  The psychodramatist activates the healing potential of the relationships.

And then there is one more thing!

the medium of therapy [is separate] from the healer as well as the group therapeutic agents.

What is that “medium” – Moreno in other places calls it the sociometric matrix.

Here is how I sum up Moreno’s philosophy:  there is a network of social and cultural role patterns we are born into. Born out of perhaps, that is the matrix. Spontaneity is our ability to transcend that given.

Here is the selection in Google Drive.  It should be public – if not email me.

Thus the healing is in the relational paradigm.  (an imago book)

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Roles Create Roles

“a role is the functioning form the individual assumes in the specific moment he reacts to a specific situation in which other persons or objects are involved” (Moreno, 1977, p IV)

Lets take a list of roles, these are from Max Clayton’s article (Clayton, 1994),  it is a convenient list, and it is the one that got me to think about this:

Playful fun-lover
Frightened, abandoned orphan
Anxious and suspicious fantasiser
Angry controller
Condemning critic
Good listener

For each of these there is as Moreno puts it: “a specific situation in which other persons or objects are involved.” We can grasp the role it is possibly in relation to from the role.

Playful funlover
Frightened, abandoned orphan
Anxious and suspicious fantasiser
Angry controller
Condemning critic
Good listener
Art Materials or Audience
Wilderness, the unknown, adventurer
Compliant Follower, Sucker, victim
The Void, Black dog, Stubborn controller
Absent Parent, Threatening bully
Challenging person or situation
Helpless follower
Self doubter

Creating Change in a Role Relationship

These role pairs will change as one of the roles changes:

The teacher can’t teach without the student

Lovers need lovers

If the manipulatee ceases to be duped and becomes assertive the manipulator can’t manipulate.

If there is no speaker, become a good listener.

If there is no artist, become an appreciative audience and contribute materials

Be loving and love may come your way.

Stop criticising, appreciate and praise and you won’t be with a self-doubter for long.

Role relationships

There are different types of role relationship. Max talks of complementary roles and symmetrical roles.

“The diagrams made it easier to be aware of the complementary and symmetrical role systems that developed with other people and of the fact that there was an increase in complementary role relationships. As ability to analyse, plan and enjoy life came to the fore, so those roles pertaining to intimacy increased. There was a welcoming of closeness and an interest in complementing what others were doing. The aggressive approach to others diminished and along with this a lessening of symmetrical role relations and of the competitive dynamic that is associated with these. There was also a development of a real sense of being a role creator. Previously there had been much more of a sense of being a mundane person. A look at the diagrams also confirmed the ability to create forms of expression through which life purposes could be fulfilled. The experience of being a role creator was accompanied by an increase in motivation.”

An example of complementary role might be speaker / listener – and this would increase intimacy, as max suggests.

Symmetrical roles can escalate and be competitive e.g. Talker / talker can become shouter / shouter.

But some symmetrical roles can be intimate lover/lover gardener/gardener

Google search found the book online Note: I have a physical copy.


Clayton, G. M. (1994). Role Theory and its Application in Clinical Practice. In P. Holmes, K. Karp, & M. Watson (Eds.), Psychodrama Since Moreno (pp. 121–144). London: Routledge. Retrieved Tuesday, 9 February, 2016 from
Moreno, J. L. (1977). Psychodrama Volume One (Fourth ed.). Beacon, New York: Beacon House.

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Varieties of Encounter

Facilitating interaction was the dictum I used for the first couple therapy I did. I recall, as an untrained social worker in a hospital being asked to work with a couple who had difficulties. The night before I read a gestalt based book on couple therapy and facilitate interaction was the central practical guide I took away. I could have done worse.

I have written on dialogue and encounter in the AANZPA Journal more recently: The Imago Affair. Let me quote a relevant chunck from that paper as I wish to further reflect on encounter.


At their heart, both Moreno’s and Hendrix’s work go beyond technique and are an invitation to a profound experience. The aim of a dialogue is not a specific outcome, nor is it reliant on one method. Here is the section of Moreno’s well known poem that encapsulates the idea of encounter.

A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face.
And when you are near I will tear your eyes out
and place them instead of mine,
and you will tear my eyes out
and will place them instead of yours,
then I will look at you with your eyes
and you will look at me with mine.

Harville Hendrix introduced the validation step into the Imago structure with an eye to facilitating just such an experience. It is often taught as understanding or making sense. The lead-in line goes like this: “You make sense. And one thing that makes sense is…” The listener is invited to cross a bridge into the world of the other, and to see what they see, and feel what they feel in that world. Note the similarity to Moreno in Hendrix’s idea.

Buber clarified for me that a “Thou” relationship with others required honouring their “otherness” as an “I” distinct from me and any concepts I might have of them. This required a willingness to look at the world of another through his or her eyes.

Linger on the moments of connection described here:

I will look at you with your eyes (Moreno)

look at the world of another through his or her eyes (Hendrix)

Are they the same?

Both Imago and in the work of Moreno there is the idea of a special meeting. Not just any meeting, but something profound, where you become the other…

How to facilitate, or operationalise encounter is different in the psychodramatic sphere than in the I Imago sphere. They use different contexts for their techniques as well, psychodrama: the stage. Imago: the couple in dialogue and Hedy Schleifer has a variation:  Host / Visitor to the other’s world.

There are techniques/concepts in these modalities that are sometimes akin, but differently nuanced, and sometimes unique to the method. There are other modalities and have techniques for interaction, of importance is the variation of Imago developed by Hedy Schleifer and her husband, and the work of Dan Wile.

My friend and colleague Dan Randow and I are working on describing the varieties of techniques for encounter. Here is a beginning.

Here is a list of techniques/concepts:

Doubling: in Psychodrama

Mirroring — Psychodrama

Role reversal — Psychodrama

Doubling in Imago:  Related to the use of lead-lines

Doubling in Dan Wile’s CRT

Mirroring in Imago

Validating,  Imago

Empathy as used in Imago

Dialogue (Imago)

Host, Visitor (Hedy Schleifer)



How does role reversal relate to encounter? In role reversal and in doubling you become the other to the best of your ability. You take the physical position of the other, quite literally in role reversal and by being alongside and slightly behind the other when doubling.

Is it useful to distinguish the inter-psyche from the intra-psyche; what goes on in our subjective world and what goes on between us?  Maybe sometimes, all these encounter processes aim at improving the relationship and healing and growth of the individuals at the same time.



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“Origins of Encounter and Encounter Groups” by J.L. And Zerka Moreno

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I managed to get hold of a monograph, Origins of Encounter and Encounter groups. (Moreno & Moreno, 1970). It is a stimulating read. I have just created three separate posts.

Balancing openness with the integrity of the psychodrama method.

Moreno and social science
This monograph has a concise statement that I have not seen before.

This is obviously the main theme of the monograph. Useful. Encounter is so central to Moreno’s opus, but it has not been developed well in practice. It was railroaded by the ‘encounter’ movement.

Moreno, J. L., & Moreno, Z. T. (1970). Origins of encounter and encounter groups (Psychodrama and group psychotherapy monographs, no. 45). Beacon House.

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This is the third of three posts based on the monograph “Origins of Encounter and Encounter Groups” by J.L. And Zerka Moreno

This is obviously the main theme of the encounter monograph. There is more here on encounter than I’ve seen in other books by Moreno.[Check out Vol 2] Useful. Encounter is so central to Moreno’s opus, but it has not been developed fully in practice. It was railroaded by the ‘encounter’ movement.

I think some clarification is needed, philosophically, for the psychodrama director to enhance practice, and for people seeking greater depth of encounter in their lives. How is encounter related, in practice, to role reversal, mirroring and doubling, how can encounter be produced on the stage and as a phenomenon in life?

A more comprehensive definition of encounter is contained in Progress in Psychotherapy, Vol. I.* “Encounter, which derives from the French rencontre, is the nearest translation of Begegnung. The German zwischen-menschlich and the English ‘interpersonal’ or ‘interactional’ are anemic notions compared to the living concept of encounter. Begegnung conveys that two or more persons meet not only to face one another, but to live and experience one another—as actors, each in his own right. It is not only an emotional rapport, like the professional meeting of a physician or therapist and patient or, an intellectual rapport, like teacher and student, or a scientific rapport, like a participant observer with his subject. It is a meeting on the most intensive level of communication. The participants are not put there by any external authority; they are there because they want to be— representing the supreme authority of the self-chosen path. The persons are there in space; they may meet for the first time, with all their strengths and weaknesses—human actors seething with spontaneity and zest. It is not Einfühlung; it is Zweifühlung—togetherness, sharing life. It is an intuitive reversal of roles, a realization of the self through the other; it is identity, the rare, unforgotten experience of total reciprocity. The encounter is extemporaneous, unstructured, unplanned, unrehearsed—it occurs on the spur of the moment. It is ‘in the moment’ and ‘in the here’, ‘in the now’. It can be thought of as the preamble, the universal frame of all forms of structured meeting, the common matrix of all the psychotherapies, from the total subordination of the patient (as in the hypnotic situation) to the superiority and autonomy of the protagonist (as in psychodrama).” “Summing up, Begegnung is the sum total of interaction, a meeting of two or more persons, not in the dead past or imagined future, but in the here and now, hic et nunc, in the fullness of time—the real, concrete and complete situation for experience; it involves physical and psychic contact. It is the convergence of emotional, social and cosmic factors which occur in all age groups, but particularly in adolescence (Begegnung syndrome); it is the experience of identity and total reciprocity; but above all, psychodrama is the essence of the encounter.”

* The first journal which has the phrase “interpersonal relations” in its title.

(Moreno & Moreno, 1970)

I’m not sure if the reference is to Psychodrama Vol 2, but that does have a relevant passage:

In other words, a process which had operated from the start, parallel to the charm produced by transference, is now coming more strongly to the fore. He sees the patient now as she is. This other process acting between two individuals has characteristics missing in transference. It is called “tele”, feeling into one another. It is “Zweifühlung” in difference from “Einfühlung”. Like a telephone it has two ends and facilitates two-way communication. It is know that many therapeutic relations between physician and patient, after a phase of high enthusiasm from both sides, fade out and terminate, often for some emotional reason. The reason is frequently a mutual disillusionment when the transference charm is gone and the tele attraction is not sufficiently strong to promise permanent therapeutic benefits. It can be said that the stability of a therapeutic relationship depends upon the strength of the tele cohesion operating between the two participants.

(Moreno & Moreno, 1975:6-7)

Moreno, J. L., & Moreno, Z. T. (1970). Origins of encounter and encounter groups (Psychodrama and group psychotherapy monographs, no. 45). Beacon House.

Moreno, J. L., & Moreno, Z. T. (1975). Psychodrama Second Volume: Foundations of Psychotherapy (Second Printing). Beacon, New York: Beacon House.

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Balancing openness and integrity of the psychodrama method.

This is the first of three posts based on the monograph “Origins of Encounter and Encounter Groups” by J.L. And Zerka Moreno

The psychodrama method is an open system, people add to it and take from it in various ways. In the Australian and Aotearoa tradition we do a lot of role reversal, more than in the US. We have incorporated the focal conflict model as a way of making sense of group process. Role theory includes coping, fragmenting and progressive roles, borrowing from Karen Horney. On the whole we do honour the philosophy of Moreno as the basis for our work. I hope there os room to develop further, especially using sociometric methods to explore the philosophy and new techniques. Also it may be useful to know that there is no exact one way to do psychodrama.

I found this passage recently. The openness is like open source software, it means psychodrama does not belong to anyone. To maintain the integrity of the philosophy it is important to delve into it collectively and show how it is integrated with practice.

It is not so important that Moreno’s school did these things first. That is merely one aspect of the problem. But we want to pierce the vanity and outrageous bravado of our many good friends and enemies Who, under the broad mantle of science, have disowned and absorbed these ideas and are brazenly trying to get away with it. The problem is not “getting a bigger bag of better working tricks.” The problem is far more serious; the disowners undermine a system of thought, a view, a philosophy of the world, a synthesis of methods which hang together and whose break-up produces confusion instead of enlightenment, invite disaster instead of producing cohesion.

Freud’s dilemma was holding his ideas tight to himself, therefore his rejection of everyone who did not recognize his priority and adhere to the dogma: Jung, Adler, Rank, Stekel, Ferenczi, among others. Moreno did the opposite. He is tolerant and devoted to his students. His secret weapon was “giving away” his ideas; his strength lay in letting people use his ideas, encouraging them to try them out, making them their own. There was considerable risk in this; losing the priority claim was only one small part, the deeper conflict arose out of separating the methods from the philosophy. Substitute theories and philosophies are false and misleading, as they abrogate or abort the complete execution of the methods. Moreno’s position was therefore: “Take my ideas, my concepts, but do not separate them from their parent, the philosophy; do not split my children in half, like a Solomonic judgement. Love them in toto, support and respect the entire structure upon which they rest. Make them your own as completely as I do. Role reverse with me and put yourself entirely into my position.” Many have not done this; they have split the children and separated them from their true parent, like the false mother before Solomon intended. But an ever-growing number are becoming aware and the recognition gap is slowly narrowing. If Moreno – continues to make his students aware of this gap, his way may yet prove to be the Winner.

(Moreno & Moreno, 1970)

Moreno, J. L., & Moreno, Z. T. (1970). Origins of encounter and encounter groups (Psychodrama and group psychotherapy monographs, no. 45). Beacon House.

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Moreno and social science

This is the second of three posts based on the monograph “Origins of Encounter and Encounter Groups” by J.L. And Zerka Moreno

I’ve read and written extensively on Moreno’s scientific methods. This is a concise statement from the Encounter Monograph I have not seen before.

Moreno’s Ideas of a Science of Human Relations

An adequate science of human relations did not exist before the advent of sociometry. *

“Comte’s Hierarchy of the Sciences, 1) mathematics, 2) astronomy, 3) physics, 4) chemistry, 5) biology, and 6) sociology, has become obsolete. His assumption that all sciences can be treated by the same basic methodology is an error. The social sciences need—at least in their crucial dimension—different methods of approach. The crux of the ontology of science is the status of the ‘research objects.’ Their status is not uniform in all sciences. There is a group of sciences like astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology in which the research objects are always mere ‘objects’. Their actions speak for themselves and the generalizations concluded from them are not threatened by any metaphysical protest or social revolution of their kind.

Then there is another group of sciences, the social sciences. It is because of a chronic inertia in their development that sociometry has raised the question: how are social sciences possible? It has found that the social sciences like psychology, sociology, and anthropology require that its objects be given ‘research status’ and a certain degree of scientific authority in order to raise their level from a pseudo objective discipline to a. science which operates on the highest level of its material dynamics. It accomplishes this aim by considering the research objects not only as objects but also as research actors, not only as objects of observation and manipulation but as co-scientists and co-producers in the experimental design they are going to set up.” Our two chief experimental designs are sociometry and psychodrama.

* J.L. Moreno, Who Shall Survive?, 1934 and 1953. p. 63-64.

(Moreno & Moreno, 1970)

Moreno, J. L., & Moreno, Z. T. (1970). Origins of Encounter and Encounter Groups (Psychodrama and group psychotherapy monographs, no. 45). Beacon House.

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History of the Relational Paradigm

It occurred to me that before Imago therapists came up with the idea of the relationship paradigm there were earlier attempts at the formulation.

I’ve mentioned Moreno and ‘tele’, Martin Buber and I-Thou today it occurred to me that Jung also had a concept for something similar: participation mystique. [Turns out I’ve written on this earlier in this post.]

Sure enough, I’m not the first to notice this.

Bridge to Unity – By MD Wilford W. Spradlin, Susan Renee Amazon

The connection between I-Thou and participation mystique is mentioned at least twice in this novel. I’ve also found thesis and other comments I’ll add in later posts.

Page 60:

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Page 96:

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Coevolution, invention, creation of the psyche – the relational paradigm

There is a flow in the evolution process.

Grass had to exist before grazing animals could evolve, they in turn had to precede carnivores.

These examples perhaps are best expressed in the principle of the “next adjacent possible”.

A brief digression: I recently ran across a novel way to think about this question. In evolutionary theory, there’s a concept called the “adjacent possible,” coined by scientist Stuart Kauffman.

From this blog.

The “adjacent possible” refers to the change that’s available to you — i.e. adjacent, next door – versus the change that’s not.

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From Stuart A. Kauffman — Reinventing The Sacred Amazon

The process is holistically connected to the mutual adaptations in each species. Grasses develop ways to survive grazing. Herbivores evolve capacity to run, and carnivores develop sharper teeth and claws.

This idea is sometimes captured with the phrase co-evolution (Wikipedia):

In biology, coevolution is “the change of a biological object triggered by the change of a related object.”[1] Coevolution can occur at many biological levels: it can be as microscopic as correlated mutations between amino acids in a protein, or as macroscopic as covarying traits between different species in an environment. Each party in a coevolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution.

Earlier postexaptation, a related concept.

I’m imagining this whole process as envisage the world of the psyche. The changing nature of how we relate to our being. Everything from collective rituals, art, monks meditating in a cave, group therapy, psychoanalysis, conjoint family week and couple therapy.

The investigations above, summed up as:

  • Adjacent possible
  • Coevolution
  • Exaptation

Imagine how these apply to the coevolution/invention/creation of the psyche.

(Why I say evolution/invention/creation is evident from this post about psyche this post about the nature of the psyche, about how it is not a thing, yet not nothing either, is relevant.)

Freud was before Jung. The idea of an unconscious and a method of working with it that was possible in the world was available to Freud as a medical clinician.

Moreno was in part a reaction to Freud. Group therapy and conjoint therapy was possible.

Moreno and Buber had found or invented an idea about the nature of the person being in the relationship.

Hendrix is pioneering the ice that being is relationship.

The relational paradigm is the now a niche that has opened, a shift in the culture and new ways of attending the the psyche are possible.

Moreno’s idea that this could well transform science is also on the cards as an I-Thou relationship with things is also possible according to Buber.

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