LPTI places participants’ safety and wellbeing as our top priority. Through our usual participatory decision-making processes, the LPTI community decided to go virtual for the month of January. We are hopeful we may be able to re-open safely soon, and we continue to monitor federal, state, and local guidance on public health conditions.
Notes from Cathy
Welcome to the Winter edition of Behind the Scenes at Laurel Psychodrama Training Institute! The mantra from Dale and Nina seems especially apt at this time of year when many people set goals for the new year.
Much has been written about the difference between goals and intentions. Goals are benchmarks we set for ourselves. Goals generally emerge from a deficit mindset: Something is wrong with me, and I need to fix it. By accomplishing my goal, I will be more acceptable to myself and others. On the other hand, intentions emerge from our most prized values and focus more on how we show up for the next leg of our journey, rather than what we accomplish at the end of it.
Theory and research on self-compassion clearly demonstrate that the “cattle prod” or harsh critic way of motivating ourselves does not work. Instead, it is more beneficial to mindfully and compassionately discern which roles we want to bring our best effort and energy to, and in which roles we are satisfied to be adequate.
This year, I invite you to join me in taking a risk to dare to be adequate.
LPTI Hosts American Board of Examiners in September and January
LPTI hosted the past two semi-annual meetings of the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy (ABE/The Board)—one in September 2021 and one in January 2022.
LPTI community members, Meade Jones Hanna and N’Kosi Ayize generously served as Trained Auxiliary Egos (TAEs) for the meetings, providing extensive support. Meade catered our meals, providing her loving touch to the nutritious and delicious homemade fare she prepared and served. N’Kosi supported the catering process and provided logistical and technical support before, during and after the meetings.
Meade Hanna with Dale Richard Buchanan; N’Kosi Ayize with Letitia Coburn
Goodbye, Dale; Hello, Nick
One bittersweet moment of the January Board Meeting was the acknowledgment of Dale Richard Buchanan’s exceptional service to the ABE for the past 37 years. Dale will be stepping down from his role as Executive Director on June 30. He has been mentoring and role-training the incoming Executive Director, Nick Senzee, since last August. Nick takes over the role on July 1.
The Board has been especially hard-working and productive over the past year, responding with spontaneity to changing public health conditions by developing pandemic accommodations that increase the allowable number of distance learning hours toward the required training hours, as well as allowing a portion of the supervised practicum to be conducted online.
Cathy has been a Board Director and Officer since 2014. She is current President, and, in the past, has served as Vice-President, Admissions Chair, and Ethics Chair.
Cathy Interviewed for
Recovery Review Online Publication
What do you know about Cathy’s professional life outside of psychodrama and before launching LPTI full-time? Up until 2014, Cathy enjoyed a 20-year tenure with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). At SAMSHA, Cathy developed and administered programs designed to improve the quality and accessibility of substance abuse prevention, substance use disorders treatment, and mental health services. Drawing on her background in Applied Behavioral Science, community organizing, sociometry and mental health counseling, Cathy emerged a thought leader in SAMHSA’s effort to bring about a paradigm shift in the way behavioral services are conceptualized and delivered across the country. Cathy was an advocate and major architect of SAMHSA’s trauma-informed, recovery-oriented approach. The recovery paradigm stands in contrast to older models based on deficit and pathology.
During these years Cathy maintained her clinical practice and psychodrama training efforts part-time. Cathy’s dedication to public serve provides inspiration to her students who similarly dedicate themselves to psychodrama and clinical practice while engaging in public policy and social change during these critical times.
Read more about Cathy’s work in advocating for long-term recovery models that emphasize community reintegration and peer recovery support services. View her December 2021 interview for Recovery Review here.
Coming Up at LPTI
Updates from the LPTI Peer Reading Club
LPTI’s Peer Reading Group, facilitated by Thomas Northrup, is in session. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 2 from 5:30-6:30 EST. Look out for an announcement of the March/April topic.
New to LPTI: Please contact Cathy to discuss your interest in the Peer Reading Club.
Updates on the Peer Mentoring Program
Will Halm is leading the second year of the LPTI Mentoring Program which is open to the LPTI training cohorts members. Mentoring can be a place to spotlight and focus on specific individual goals. It is also a great way to keep the learning and growing going between the monthly cohort sessions. As Will likes to say, “One teaches, two learn.” This year our goal is to capture some data on the number of hours and the degree of satisfaction.
For Your Psychodramatic Toolbox:
The Dimond of Opposites
- Diamond of Opposites template [see attached pdf with template] OR blank paper to draw it on
- Pencil, pen or markers
- For action: Masking tape to create diamond shape on the floor
- Props and/or auxiliaries to hold roles
- Explain the purpose of the Diamond of Opposites as a tool for exploring ambivalence, and contract with the protagonist to use this tool to explore the situation under consideration.
- Invite the protagonist to consider their “pull to” and “pull not to” make a choice or take an action, marking where they are on either axis of the diamond. Let 0 represent the lowest intensity and 12 the strongest intensity. The protagonist may find it helpful to write out a few reasons for their choices in the margins.
- Let the right axis represent the “pull not to” or “repelled” side of the Diamond, and the left axis represent the “pull to” or “attracted” side.
- After marking the point on each axis representing the strength of the protagonist’s pull, identify the Union of Opposites. This is the point inside the diamond where the two marks intersect.
- Mark the intersection point or Union of Opposites and identify the quadrant within which it lies.
- If the intersection point tends toward the right side of the diamond, the protagonist’s greater pull is NOT to make the choice or change.
- If the intersection point tends toward the left side, the protagonist’s greater pull is TO make the choice or change.
- If the intersection point tends to the top of the diamond, the protagonist is experiencing a greater level of inner conflict.
- If the intersection point tends to the bottom of the diamond, the protagonist is experiencing a lesser level of inner conflict or even indifference.
- If the protagonist is warmed up to action, invite them to choose three props (scarves, stuffed animals, found objects, etc.) to concretize their “pull to,” “pull not to,” and the Union of Opposites. Place the auxiliary objects on the floor in the appropriate positions.
- Invite the protagonist to explore their choices by starting at 0 (neutral) and approaching the prop on the axis chosen to represent their “pull to” or “pull not to,” making a soliloquy about this choice. When a clear message has been given, the protagonist is asked to move to the Union of Opposites position and hear back the important parts of their soliloquy. This can be done using an auxiliary if in a group. Once the protagonist has heard the message, they are invited to return to 0, re-center, and the process is repeated with the second axis.
- Depending on the protagonist’s issue, it may be beneficial or necessary to concretize some resources that have supported them with changes in the past using props or auxiliaries.
- The protagonist is now invited to modify their Diamond of Opposites with the new insight gained from exploring their ambivalence. Modifying the diamond may reveal a Union of Opposites that is closer to a clear answer, furthering the protagonist’s warm-up to change. These new points can be explored in the same way described above. Psychodramatic exploration of the extreme points (rated 12 on the spectrograms/axes) can also reveal parental messages or narrative labels that create disruption. Then moving back to a less intense position, the protagonist may have a new perspective on that position.