Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A tribute to Ron Anderson, psychodramatist of Wisconsin

Ronald Anderson, the counselor who introduced hundreds, maybe thousands, of Midwesterners to psychodrama, died on Saturday, May 14, in Lake Geneva, Wis.

Actually, he introduced many good things to many people, including me. Ron was so kind and welcoming when I moved to Wisconsin 10 years ago, making it a point to help me meet  many of his colleagues and the community of psychodramatists, creative arts therapists and others he thought I should know, then joined me to start a psychodrama and experiential therapy training group in Racine. Later, he introduced me to systemic constellation work, for which I am profoundly grateful, as it has enriched my professional practice and enlivened and deepened my personal life.
Ron started out as a child actor and became an ordained minister in the United Methodist denomination, then worked variously a street minister, church pastor, mental health administrator and substance abuse counselor. He found psychodrama, which combined his interests in theatre, psychology and spirituality, and studied with  Dr. J.L. Moreno at Beacon, N.Y., and at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, D.C., and became a nationally certified trainer in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy in 2000. Most recently he saw clients at New Prospects Counseling Services, Milwaukee.

He and his wife Adelia started the successful Midwest Conference on the Expressive Arts Therapies in Lake Geneva, introducing Midwesterners to psychodrama and the alternative and creative arts therapies for several years. For his 70th birthday celebration two years ago, he arranged a party where we dramatized special memories: his long-standing friendship with a boyhood pal;  his "church ladies" in Wisconsin becoming mesmerized by young playboy Hugh Hefner who attended his church's dinners, meeting his future wife Adelia when she arrived for psychodrama training and later marrying her during an delightful outdoor ceremony, and others.

Ron won the Innovators Award in 2010 from American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama for his pioneering work in combining psychodrama and systemic constellation work and identified himself as the first person in the United States to be trained by both J.L. Moreno, the developer of psychodrama, and Bert Hellinger, the developer of Systemic Constellation Work. Among his other accomplishments he counted serving as president of Midwest Chapter of the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama from 1998-2002; hiking the Milford Track during four days over the Southern Alps of New Zealand in 1996 and winning the Ralph Nader Award in 1987.

Together we are the co-authors of Integrating Psychodrama and Systemic Constellation Work: New Directions for Action Methods, Mind-body Therapies and Energy Healing.
For those who knew Ron, an online guest book is available to sign here.