Psychodrama Structures is a modality that I have studied with Bessel van der Kolk and Licia Sky since 2016, and more recently with Gus Kaufman and Jim Amundsen, senior Pesso-Boyden trainers.
Featured in Chapter 18 of The Body Keeps the Score, Psychodrama Structures are a dynamic and interactive group process where we re-create the tableau of your childhood in three-dimensional space - your family-of-origin - so that we can resolve it by creating new, deeply satiating memories that are somaticized with the help of group members.
This work is based upon Pesso-Boyden Psychomotor Systems and it has evolved to incorporate parts work (when applicable) and complex trauma and grief.
I love this work because, for the right person at the right point in time in their journey, it gets fast results. It's like doing ten years of therapy in an hour.
In essence, you are getting a new attachment template.
In 2018, this work allowed me to resolve my unmet needs, desires, losses and longings in regards to my mother: a young mother with two young children in an arranged marriage with a good man, who fled their homeland in search of a better life. Life in a new country combined with traumatic homesickness meant that she could not be available to me in the ways that I needed as a child.
In my Psychodrama Structures work, it was deeply satiating to give my mother an Ideal Support person, who would have helped her to carry her burdens (instead of me). The space then opened up for me to take in the experience of my very own Ideal Mother as she held me and rocked. The grief poured through me. She stroked my forehead and sang to me, delighted in me and cherished me. And I felt her love in every cell of my body.
Immediately after this experience, a friend (seeing that I was a little bit wobbly still from this intense work) offered to carry my bag. I said, “Yes.” with an ease and automaticity that was astoundingly new for me! My next thought was “Wow, it’s that easy and effortless to receive help. This is what happens when you’ve experienced an Ideal Mother.”
A few days later, I returned to work and had my usual Monday morning supervision session. Usually, I sit a little bit askew in front of my supervisor. This time, I sat on the couch, directly opposite him, face to face, chest to chest. Being directly in front of you is perfectly natural and comfortable for me.
Being seen is normal, mundane, and ordinary.
And, my barriers to receiving love and care dissolved.
This modality is perfect for someone who already has the support of a coach or therapist or supportive community, and is wanting to do the deep, deep work of addressing their family-of-origin issues.
In this work, we get lots of adultified children who were raised in homes where there is substance abuse and addiction, folks who were raised in abusive homes, adultified children of refugees and immigrants, those raised by traumatized and/or traumatizing parents, and others who have experienced pervasive emotional neglect.
This intergenerational trauma work is not for the faint-hearted
and you will get lots of support.
My own experience is that residential workshops hold more potency. We all live under one roof at a retreat center. Having experienced many different workshops, the most potent containers are where we live together and share space with each other outside of the work itself. Eat together, laugh together, share rooms. It's intense work, and much of the healing also occurs during meal time conversations, and the transformations become somaticized as we explore new attachment templates with each other through the simplicity of just being together.
That said, I am aware that when folks have a significant trauma history, and/or are neurodivergent, the need for quiet time increases and becomes a basic need. Please discuss this with me.
Sometimes our stuff is too big for just one other person to hold with us - and so this is where a group process can be so incredibly helpful to our healing journey.
I typically come with two assistants, and workshop participants typically are known to me, because they've studied with me in various capacities or are colleagues of mine.
You also get two post-retreat group integration calls (optional), to help the shifts that you got during the retreat to land more fully.
If you are interested in participating in one or more of the workshops listed above, please complete the form linked below so that I can get a better idea of what you would like to get out of the workshop and help to determine if this type of work will be the right path for you at this time.
To illustrate the process of Psychodrama Structures, I've included a video of one of my own experiences below. Please be aware that the video contains intense emotional content and may be difficult for some to watch. Feel free to pause from time to time. This is just one example of how the process can unfold. While the structure is the same, each individual is unique and experiences will vary.
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