Our Psychodrama Mama
Her TSI Brood
Zerka on an African Masai cloth,
lending her support in a 2016 TSM Salon.
Zerka always shared how important the classical psychodrama double is as one of the core interventions for helping persons heal themselves and their relationships. In her book,
The Quintessential Zerka: Writings by Zerka Toeman Moreno on Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy
Z. T., Horvatin, and Schreiber, 2006), she writes of her many early uses of doubling in this compilation of decades of her work. My study that Zerka referred to (Hudgins and Kiesler, 1987) provided a quantitative research study with a control group that detailed doubling into a clinical action intervention module for individual therapy and research. This study showed perfect bell shaped curves when doubling was used in intake interviews and it received the 1987 American Psychological Association Award for Graduate Student Research.
While many people have already learned of the passing of our dear lady, Zerka T. Moreno, TSI wants to offer our own condolence, tell a few stories, and ask people to donate to her ASGPP Memorial Fund.
I had a very special relationship with Zerka that spanned almost 30 years, so I would like to share several stories about how she impacted my life and the work of TSM.
The first time I met Zerka T. Moreno was at the 1989 ASGPP conference in NYC when she called out to me across the room, "Kate, Dear ...aren't you the person who just won an APA award for your work on doubling?" I was in my early 30's, so it was with a great deal of awe that I answered her. "Yes, I am," and, thus, our relationship began.
I think it was this early connection to Zerka and her support of research that has led me to write 5 books and over 30 articles and chapters during the past 30 years, while being in private practice. Even unconsciously, I felt her right there behind/beside me and felt her love and dedication to psychodrama as a clinical model of healing. Like her, I have always written from my love of communicating the miracles of classical and TSM psychodrama, while relating it to science in clinical psychology and, most recently, to neurobiology.
An interesting anecdote about doubling occurred when I first visited Zerka, soon after she moved to her nursing home in Bethesda, MD. I asked her if she was lonely and she replied in typical Zerka fashion, "Of course not, I can always talk to my double!" I did suggest she might not do it out loud, as the staff there might not understand she was not psychotic!
When I asked Zerka for the plans of the original Moreno Theatre, where I had trained in Beacon, NY, so that I could copy them to build a psychodrama theater, she happily and generously gave them to me. We worked together to create the Psychodrama Theatre of Protection in Black Earth, WI, which she described as the most beautiful psychodrama theatre in all the world. When asked if she would come to open it on October 31st, she exclaimed, "Let the witches fly!"
During her introduction to the group of international psychodramatists, local reporters, and many people simply interested in psychodrama, she described the following, "When we first did psychodrama at
Beacon in NY, we would place mattresses on the top level of the circular stage and people who felt suicidal would throw themselves over the balcony to
xperience what committing suicide would be like!" Given that
TSM has always been a clinical model of safe psychodrama, I spontaneously jumped up and said, "But we don't do that anymore!" Of course, as with all 'sensational' news reporting, that was the featured comment in the news articles that were written about the opening!
Kate & Magic @ Black Earth Theatre of Protection---> (Of course, we stopped using batakas in the 90s.)
Zerka came to live in my hometown, Charlottesville, VA, after she fell and broke her hip in Latvia, Romania. Jonathon, her son, was the Bio-ethics Chair at the University of Virginia at that time. When he moved to accept his present position at the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, she stated she did not want to move again. She loved living in her beautiful cottage in a university community for folks over 55, and having a care staff headed by Dale Davidson that looked after her so well. Over those
12 years, we had many special experiences together, as she spent 7
years heading the Thanksgiving table at our home, where many psychodramatists from around the country, who didn't have families, joined us.
Another photo shows Zerka at my 50th birthday, where she was dressed as the role of my diamond ring since my husband, Peter Dummett, had asked everyone to come dressed as one of my roles.
We could experience her joy and spontaneity as she danced and sang with those of us who were much younger than she!
It was during these 12 years that Zerka and I formed a true psychodramatic mother-daughter relationship, even so that I became the person she would often call when her computer didn't work, or she would need something. After she fell again and could no longer come to my home, I would bring her lunch every Friday when I was home. She'd tell stories of the evolution of psychodrama, or personal ones of the love of her son, and the achievements of her grandchildren.
Now, after her death, I am also realizing that I began to live out her unfinished dream of bringing psychodrama to China as well as to 29 other countries, including Taiwan and Japan. Each year from
2002 on, I assisted her with a workshop for students from Taiwan, led by Dr Lai Nien-hwa, TEP, and hosted them at my home for many years. In true mother-daughter fashion, one of my greatest losses from her death, is that there is no one who calls me two days after I return from work in Asia to ask me "all about everything that happened."
The real developmental repair Zerka gave me was to be interested in my work and the development of TSM, always telling me that J.L. would be proud of me for creating something beyond the cultural conserve. Having had a good mother growing up, but one that wanted to me to be stay-at-home mother, Zerka's support of my work has truly made a difference in my life and the lives of those I have taught.
My final interaction with Zerka came on the spiritual plane of the cosmos. Scott Giacomucci had asked me to take him to visit Zerka about 6 months before the 2016 ASGPP conference, and I had said there was no point because she was in a medically induced coma for pain. However, at the conference, we sat together during the Opening Ceremony with Tony Rehouse, a Native American who did a drumming and sound healing. During this time, we both saw us going to Zerka's bedside and offering a native ceremony to her. A month later, we did visit her in her nursing home. Scott read her poems from her own book "Love Songs to Life" and, when I introduced him to her "as the representative of the next generation of psychodramatists to carry on her work," we both saw her sit up and look directly at him with wide blue eyes. Of course, the doctors were sure that could not happen physically, so we concluded that we had met together on the cosmic plane. Interestingly, while her eyes were blue in this experience, in reality she had brownish/green eyes! When sharing this story last week in China, they said that blue was the color of wisdom in their culture, so I'm assuming that is why we saw blue!
To carry on Zerka's work through the many shared stories I gained with her during our years together, I am dedicating our new TSI workshop site outside of Philadelphia to her in her honor. As she had often said, when I would tell her of the clinical modifications Francesca and I made to classical psychodrama to create The Therapeutic Spiral Model, "I always told JL that psychodrama needed to be more contained!" Thus, we will carry on this tradition in workshops that already started this summer and forever beyond at this site. (Please see below and our website for dates of workshops in 2017.)
Currently, I am part of the ZTM Memorial Committee and, as such, I'd like to ask everyone reading this to please make a donation to her memorial fund with the ASGPP, to honor her life and continue her work in the international community. Even a $5 or $10 donation will make a difference! (Please visit the ASGPP website for the donation information.)
Blessings to all of you from the TSI community and from the spirit of Zerka's life.
Love and care,
A Little Bird: Francesca's Memory
Back in 1988, I was first introduced to psychodrama by Zerka at Omega Institute, so I knew her for many years, just as many know Zerka -- a woman who embodies a mission; a most beautiful and powerful psychodramatist, who can distill simplicity and truth from any presenting problem. But in the last couple of years of her living in Charlottesville, I got to know her in a completely different situation and
on a completely different level -- shared lunches.
Upon arrival at Zerka's cottage, I'd bring our food into the kitchen and with Dale, Zerka's caretaker, we'd fix our luncheon trays. Before eating, I'd check on what was happening with the birds that gathered in different garden spots, so I could report their goings-on. It was such a lovely setting but, unfortunately, from the bed where she now resided, Zerka couldn't see the gardens. She did, however, have large windows in her bedroom that looked out to the front of the home. The sun would shine through in the late afternoon, so Zerka asked me to hang an exquisite sun-catcher she had received as a gift. When the sun would heat it up, it would turn, casting prisms on the walls and furniture. We loved that sun-catcher, both of us alleging how it made us feel about 7 years old.
While having our lunch we'd talk about many things that were current in the world, and also about our lives from childhood on. We rarely, if ever, talked about psychodrama. Zerka has told many of her stories in her writings, but, as is her wont, she told me some that made me feel as if she were sharing on a very personal level. Especially with stories of her parents, her extended family, living in Amsterdam, and then moving to England, and what it was like to be a teenager then. Many times we spoke of her mother, and all that she was now discovering as she translated her mother's notes and memories. She also was interested to know about my childhood and about my parents, who were the same age as she.
But most of what I treasure about the time spent with Zerka is the breadth of our interests and conversations. Yes, today's current events, but how they relate to the past, the historical continuity and discontinuity. We discussed religion, art, music, and film. After each lunch, we would watch a movie or old TV series. She had a documentary series on the Civilization of the Jewish People hosted by Abba Eban; it was comprehensive and sensitive. I was particularly interested in the historical Jewish view of Jesus -- a real eye-opener. She loved the first Forsythe Saga from the 60s, and watching that led us, almost seamlessly, to the first 3 seasons of Downton Abbey, which her daughter-in-law kindly bought her. Zerka was so alive, so aware, and open-minded that I completely forgot her age -- she was much younger than I. Just being who she was, she presented a challenge and role-model. These weekly 3-hour visits fed me much more than they fed Zerka, I'm sure.
When she left her beautiful cottage to move to Maryland, it was a very sad time. I really felt as if a close friend or a big sister were leaving. Being the oldest of 6, I never had a big sister and I believe Zerka filled a bit of that role -- not exactly a mother. She was someone I could watch navigate life's seasons and try to emulate. On a 'girl' note, Zerka was so naturally beautiful, yet she never, ever let herself be seen without 'fixing herself up.' Her hair always done, a little makeup, a touch of lipstick. So admirable -- a beautiful heart, mind, and a beautiful woman.
Along with my treasured memories, there are boxes she gave me of art books collected from 2 continents over many years and from
many exhibits. But most of all, I cherish the birdbath Zerka gave me in remembrance of the weekly bird report. It now sits outside my dining room and when the cardinals come, I know Zerka is there too.
Zerka is alive and vibrant here and in my memory, in all our memories, I'm sure. And I believe it's exactly as she would have it.
Zerka's birdbath in my garden, covered with snow and cardinals nearby --->
Offered with love,
Mario's Magical Ruby Slippers
Being one of Zerka's "Psychodramatic Children" made me privy to many of the lesser-known facts about her, including her incredible collection of shoes. When her memoir came out, I was delighted to see that not only did she write about her penchant for footwear, but mentioned that I had nicknamed her "the Imelda Marcos of Psychodrama." (You youngsters in the field will have to Google Imelda to find out the reference.)
After Zerka was no longer as mobile as once she was, she gave away most of her shoe collection, and sent me a pair of deep red (almost maroon) shoes as a memento.
Although my feet are considerably larger than hers, I could never fill those shoes, but keep them as an inspiration and motivation to follow through on her admonition from my early days as a trainee: "Find the Magic!"
Mario Cossa, 2016
Many people have asked about Kate's first research article that she referenced in her remembrances of Zerka, above. We've also added the latest article/chapter she's done linking TSM, and specifically the TSIRA, to the latest neurobiological findings.
Hudgins, M.K., & Kiesler, D.J. (1987). Individual experiential psychotherapy: An initial validation study of the intervention module of psychodramatic doubling. Psychotherapy, 24, 245-255.
(This study provided a quantitative research study with a control group that detailed doubling into a clinical action intervention module for individual therapy and research, and showed perfect bell shaped curves when doubling was used in intake interviews, while the comparison group showed random.)
Hudgins, M. K. (In Press). PTSD Unites the World: Prevention, Intervention and Training in The Therapeutic Spiral Model. In C.E. Stout and G. Wang (EDs). Why Global Health Matters: Guidebook of Innovation and Inspiration. Amazon.
Creating Your Own Family Rituals for the Holidays
and Releasing Transgenerational Trauma
December 9 - 11, 2016 ● Charlottesville, VA
- Time: Friday and Saturday 10am - 6pm; Sunday 9am - 3pm
- Fee: $600. * Credit Card Payments: Kate Hudgins: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Housing: through solo or shared rooms at local hotels or Air BnB.
- Venue: Kate's Home. Dr. Kate cooks lunch for Sunday!
- Registration: Please apply to Kate Hudgins so she can put together the best group for the Salon. Participants report that they get 6 months of therapy and change from these small Salons, so register soon as the spaces go quickly!
Making Friends With Your Defenses
January 13 - 15, 2017 ● Media, PA
& Scott Giacomucci, MSW, LSW, CTTS, CET II
- Time: Friday 10am - 6pm, Sunday 10am - 4pm
- Fee: $600 * Deposit: $100 * Early Discount: $550 if paid in full by 12/13/2016 * Credit Card Payments: Kate Hudgins: email@example.com
- Venue: Penn State University, Brandywine Campus, Main Building, Room 113, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA.
- Sponsor & Registration: Giacomucci & Walker, LLC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Collective and Individual Trauma Healing
March 3 - 5, 2017 ● Emeryville, C
Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP & Armand Volkas, MFT, RDT
Using Projective Identification with Trauma Survivors
March 10 - 12, 2017 ● San Rafael, CA
Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP & Sylvia Israel, LMFT, LCSW, RDT, TEP
- Time: Friday & Saturday 10am-6pm; Sunday 10am-4pm
- Fee: $600. Send $100 deposit to: TSI, 1460 Stoney Creek Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22902.
- Early Discount: $550 if paid in full before February 2017. * Contact Kate for payment by credit card.
- 20 CEUs for MFT, LCSW (Sylvia Israel #129230), additional $50.
- Registration & Information: Kate Hudgins, email@example.com
Finding Your Inner Home
March 17 - 19, 2017 ● Sunnyvale, CA
Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP & Vlada Zapesotsky, LMFT, PAT
ASGPP 75th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Conference
May 4 - 7, 2017 ● Clearwater, FL
- Venue: Clearwater HiltonFurther information will be posted as it becomes available.
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