Monday, February 27, 2012

Psychodrama has powerful results with eating disorders

Linda Ciotola and "body book," an awareness activity.

With today marking the start of National Eating Disorders Week, today is a good time to spotlight the use of action methods for the treatment of eating disorders.

The use of psychodrama is especially helpful with the treatment of  traditional eating disorders as well as “dieting disorders” and a range of difficulties with body image. As I put together my next book with co-author and sister psychodramatist Linda Ciotola, I'm reminded again about the complexity of eating disorders and the amazing power of psychodrama.

Our book, titled "Healing Eating Disorders with Psychodrama and Other Action Methods: Beyond the Silence and the Fury," has just been accepted for publication by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and you will see it soon. In the meanwhile, you may enjoy my sample eating disorder training handout for trainees here.

To read about Linda Ciotola's innovative work with eating disorders and several articles about psychodrama, see her web site here.

A number of practitioners and psychodramatists, including Kim Burden, Monica Callahan, Kathy Metcalf, Colleen Baratka, Mary Bellofatto and Linda Ciotola have devoted some or all of their professional work to eating disorders. Listen to Mary Bellofatto, a psychodramatist who is a member of the board of directors for the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, talk about the value of psychodrama here. You may also find one of Mary's handouts here. 

Both the sociometric and the experiential nature of the modality help eating disorder patients in a number of ways. Sociometrically, the understanding of roles the patient plays — including the self-destructive roles — is a first step in enhancing new roles that are healthy and self-caring.

With psychodrama, the client is able to experience her relationship with the eating disorder as well learn more about its role in her life. The psychodramatic group is another plus, as people with eating disorders are often isolated from others and tend to use food or the misuse of food to avoid relationships with people.

Here's a short video about psychodrama with Angelina Gonzalez, therapist at the Oliver  Pyatt Centers, talking about the basics of psychodrama:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Finally, Zerka Moreno tells her memoirs about psychodrama

In psychology and psychotherapy networks, Jacob L. Moreno and his wife Zerka T. Moreno were a pioneering couple.

Now we can read about Zerka's life in To Dream Again: A Memoir, just published this month by Mental Health Resources.

Zerka met "Doctor" in 1941, when she brought her psychotic sister to Moreno's alternative hospital in Beacon, N.Y.  His creative approach of psychodrama -- sans medication -- gave the sister great relief, and Zerka was enchanted by the charismatic physician who had emigrated from Vienna, Austria to the United States.

She  became his co-worker, partner, wife and  helpmate until Dr. Moreno died in 1974 and continued to refine and develop the psychodramatic method and traveled around the world to teach until she was well into her eighties. She now lives in Charlottesville, Va., still drawing great respect and pilgrimages as the "mother of psychodrama."

I had the great good fortune throughout the 1990s to study with Zerka  as my primary trainer. It was she who recommended that I pursue becoming a trainer -- even though I was convinced I still had a lot to learn as a practitioner. 

I'll write more about my relationship with Zerka, a true wise woman, in coming blogs. However, for now, I'll repeat the words of Marcia Karp, a  well respected trainer in England and co-author of Psychodrama Since Moreno, and another of my treasured mentors:

"Zerka Toeman Moreno tells us many wise stories of survivor courage, steely determination, graceful dignity, witty humor and just plain guts. This is a guidebook for being alive, being awake, caring about oneself and the world, taking ethical action, being fully human."