I recall a social work teacher I had saying the main purpose of the training was to develop the professional identity of a social worker. I liked that idea. Especially once I saw that as a social worker I embraced a set of values, a body of literature and a community of practice. We valued a social systemic rather than individual approach, this meant seeing the world in quite a different way to, say doctors whose only systems were the human biological ones, who could make individual diagnosis but not social ones. Even better it distinguished us from psychologists, who adapted the medical model to the psyche, enviously creating a system of diagnosis based on the medical one.

Maybe it was a good thing at the time. There were variations on the theme, there were Christian social workers who I did not identify with and radical social workers who I did identify with. This blurred the edge between personal and professional identities. My family was not strong on identity. Atheist/Agnostic Dutch/Australian, humanist left rather than right. I must have craved a more defined identity as my first forage into this realm was to be able to say ‘I am a bushwalker”. In Sydney at the time, for me it had an almost religious existential meaning. Value words included intrepid, nature, hard, travelling light. It distinguished us from mere tourists, and I’m sure there are still people around who are part of that circle, and have let it define them to some degree. Now, 56 years later I retain some of these values. I trained first as a teacher but did no embraced the identity. Bushwalker softly morphed to mountaineer – but I saw it as an extension of my BW ID. Traveller was another extension I aimed to embrace, Peter Pinney style (See my blog post) but I was too much of a settler.

Philosopher, hippie, marxist were all on the journey. Now I’m writing a paper: “Being a Psychodramatist.” I don’t think I’ve landed in a fixed place. Identifying with groups and activities is one thing, belonging to a community is another, being conversant with a philosophy of life… All ok and maybe steps in the developmental pathway. As a trainer in psychodrama I want trainees to become psychodramatists, not just learn some techniques. To that end it is good to hold fast to a tradition and to embrace it. Not to cling to it, not to hide behind it. And the value in this particular tradition is that it is aware that the tradition is a conserve and that from a conserve we warm up to spontaneity and creativity. That is – from the old to the new.

Lynette Clayton wrote about the personality emerging from the roles we enact. Maybe it is also right to say that it emerges from the identities we embrace. Hmmm maybe the identities are things we discover in our selves, and then embrace. Over identification with a philosophy or group is a form of narrow mindedness, yet to be forever eclectic and skeptical is just confusing.

We need to develop an ego, personality, self, identity – all words, all useful especially in their respective philosophies. And there are stages of life for each.

In Erikson’s scheme’s_stages_of_psychosocial_development

“The teenager must achieve identity in occupation, gender roles, politics, and, in some cultures, religion.”

Thankfully he adds somewhere that this phase can go on for many years. And it is also clear that in his scheme there are many identities, professional being just one of them.

I think I developed a stable professional identity, did not get there till well into my 30s though. I see it as a cluster: psychodramatist, psychotherapist, counsellor, philosopher. Within that identity there is a lot of scope as well:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

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.

Doubling, Spontaneity, Creativity and Encounter

Just added this to my Writing page.

Doubling, Spontaneity, Creativity and Encounter (docx) — Out of date (Saturday, 7 May, 2016)

Now working on a draft here in Google Docs

This is an article I’ve been working on since I presented something along these lines at 2014 AANZPA conference.  Its about the value of doubling what is adequate in the protagonist. Doubling is not coaching, but assisting the protagonist to say what is in them in a way that it can be heard.

It takes further the ideas I came away with from the Dan Wile workshop. He says something like this: I assist the couple to heave the conversation they would have if they were not fighting.

See additional notes from 6 October 2012 Zerka Moreno on Doubling and Tele

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

Evernote Snapshot 20151220 044323

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.

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.

Who Shall Survive?

This is a rather interesting but puzzling link to Who Shall Survive. It has a different subtitle. Adds Helen Jennings as an author.

The description there about relationships is one that I have not seen summed up so well before. The idea is central to the work, but not often one that people focus on.

Who shall survive?: A new approach to the problem of human interrelations

Jacob Levy Moreno, Helen Hall Jennings
1 Review
Nervous and mental disease publishing co., 1934 – Psychology – 440 pages
In approaching the contents of this book, the reader must not expect to find society or social groups considered as if they consisted of the sum of the individuals composing them. Wherever two or more people are functioning as a social group that group not only consists of those individuals, but, more important perhaps, if that is possible, than the individuals themselves and without which their functioning as a social group cauld not be expressed, are the relations which maintain between them. It is these intangible, imponderable and invisible aspects of the situation which enable the mathematical sum of a certain number of individuals to function as a social group. Dr. Moreno’s book might he described briefly as a study of these relations between individuals. Dr. Moreno develops a technique for a process of classification which is calculated, among other things, to bring individuals together who are capable of harmonious inter-personal relationships, and so creating a social group which can function at the maximum efficiency and with the minimum of disruptive tendencies and processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved).

The book is for sale here for $339.32

Psychological Eclecticism and Nothing

I recall being advised by my then supervisor, about 30 years ago, to look around for a psychotherapy modality that grabbed me and then to learn it thoroughly and not become prematurely eclectic. I followed that advice. Psychodrama was that modality for me and I am steeped in its traditions and have practiced it for decades and hope to do that for a few more.

However I have more than a passing familiarity with a some other fields of practice, I have a grasp of Archetypal Psychology and I am qualified in Imago Relationship Therapy. I have grappled with my multiple perspectives, and have written a paper about my tension with Imago for the AANZPA Psychodrama Journal: The Imago Affair. I’ve been thinking about this more of late.

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