Psychodrama Methods for Palliative Care Teaching
In Palliative care, we have used Psychodrama to help Doctors, Hospital Staff and Caregivers in dealing with in communication with relatives, differences with other staff, and in breaking bad news to patients. Some have problems of grief and work-life-balance. A doctor in one of the programs admitted for example, he experiences “fear” of meeting incurable cancer patients during home care. He didn’t know, how to make contact, what to say, how to manage the whole situation himself. He was hesitantly explaining the matter, believing this problem might be just his own, and suspected no other participating doctor might feel like him. Through psychodramatic role play, we explored the subject, in order to find solutions and greater connection between patient and doctor. Psychodrama’s foremost method is the protagonist role play. Such training of Medical Doctors in Palliative Care can be on all subjects with special communication needs and problems like a) breaking bad news, b) overcoming collusion, c) bereavement counselling, and - d) the needs of caretakers themselves. There are many approaches and methods which can be used for palliative care training: a. Normal role play: Performing the situation again, finding out what happened b. Role reversal: putting oneself in the place of the other to get a different perspective c. Protagonist play: Interact on an interpersonal level as protagonist with all other persons involved (with support from other training group members). But the protagonist will play each and every role and get different perspectives (see b) even trying out other situations (“surplus reality”). d. Inner Psychodrama: The protagonist gets a view of all his inner attitudes, skills, needs and shortcomings, to find new solutions and other related methods e. Act Storming: The protagonist takes on the patient’s role (or relative) while other group members try  to find new solutions to the case, which the protagonist might not yet have tried. This gives a triple effect: 1.) the protagonist experiences a longer role reversal, 2.) the group tries out more possibilities – which can be fun – and the protagonist can decide, what will be helpful 3.) If all solutions are not new to the protagonist, he at least can feel, he has done his level best. f. Vignette: Have a short overview on a case or problem in someone personified by the protagonist with help of group members, but without role play (for those more reflective and shy to act). g. Constellation Work: Consider the whole constellation and let others act freely and improvise. h. Group play: Let the group create and act out a script on the problem, which can be worked on See here for details
On Death and Beyond
I have been working as a supervisor and counsellor in hospice and palliative care in Germany for several years now. In the last few years sociometric and psychodramatic methods have played an increasing role in my work. My main field of competence and most of my clients come from palliative and hospice work as well as bereavement counselling. I give training in this topic for counsellors/“supervisors” and psycho-dramatists and doctors, nurses, theologians and other staff in palliative medicine / palliative care. The nationwide number of palliative care stations, inter-disciplinary palliative care teams and their need for counselling/supervision  has almost doubled between 1999 and 2007. Ambulant hospice Home-Care often involves the services of volunteer workers. Their work is now becoming more professional. as they are offered supervision and support – paid by the German Health Insurance - due to legal regulations since 2003. Support for volunteer workers is itself undergoing transition. Specific offers for supervision are now being made by external supervisors to volunteer workers in hospices, replacing the support previously given by well-trained therapists from within the institutes. Since the end of 2008 , hundreds of ambulant palliative care teams have been founded to give complete coverage in the field of ambulant palliative care. Team-Supervision is a decisive quality factor in these new teams. See here for details
How to teach Spirituality in Palliative Care Courses.
Why to teach? Assisting the patients and patient´s family in their spiritual needs is a central aim of Palliative Care according WHO Definition. Moreover individual spirituality can assist caregivers in improving care. Some spiritual / existential quest is common to everyone. Therefore: End-oflife situations tend to increase these questions:
  •  Spiritual meaning of sickness/pain? Loss of meaning of (present) life? Why me?
  •  Negative life balance; fear of future negative remembrance
  •  Uncertainty about the “beyond”; Loss of “home”/foundation
  •  Fear of divine punishment or abandonment; extinction of being/self

What to teach?

It is well described in CCEPC and UG teaching modules for MBBS/ MSc.Nurses ( what is to be taught in India:
  •  WHO definition includes spirituality
  •  The definitions of spirituality and religion as such, and their contribution in the care.
  •  Diagnosis of spiritual/existential needs of a patient.
  •  How to help a patient / patient´s family in spiritual needs.
  •  Work as a team; include family members
  •  Inclusion of spiritual care in the care of each team member.
  •  Find ways to include spiritual experts without breaking confidentiality
  •  How to make use of one´s own spirituality for care and self-care
Quite often in India the spiritual needs are clubbed with the socio-psychological needs and the physical needs put in the forefront. At IAPCON and in the private lives of some Palliative Care experts spiritual care seems to have a higher importance than in the teaching modules. This is different but not fully uncommon in the Western world too. Maybe it’s therefore a good question:

How to teach?

No clear outline is given. This topic is not often touched. Maybe it one thinks that , spirituality belongs to “private life”? Or: India is already the World leader in teaching spirituality - so much that even Westerns including myself come to get teaching here. Or tools are unknown. For sure there should be some intellectual instructions on the above mentioned topics to enrich the knowledge. But: There should NOT be spiritual talks/instructions – as to my understanding. In addition there MUST be some practice and practical instructions. Within self-care we can teach:
  • Rituals: to give structure to teaching modules and to give structure in caring
  •  Meditation / Mindfulness: to keep balance
  •  Individual use of rituals: to unburden oneself of grief
In the care we should try out (e.g.):
  •  Assessment tools for the spiritual diagnosis: like FICA or SPIR Interviews (European Journal of Cancer Care 15, 238–243) in a one to one setting group work among the  participants.
  • Role play: In psychodramatic methodology “play of gods” the group is split into smaller subgroups of humans/believers with a special need (e.g.. grief) and in others playing “gods of own choice”. The humans can find out surprising options to solveproblems.


Spirituality can still be more esteemed in Indian palliative care. In teaching there should be place for practice and experience of spiritual caring.

Jochen Becker-Ebel

Adjunct Professor for Palliative Care, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, Dr. theol., Psychodramadirector DFP; literature: and See here for details
The method of "Magic Shop" was invented by the founder of Psychodrama and IAGP J. L. Moreno (1889-1974) before 1940 in New York (or even before in Vienna). Later Hanna B. Weiner (New York), Leon Fine (Saint Louis), Anne Ancelin Scuhtzenberger (Paris) and Eva Leveton (San Francisco) developed this method further on. The "Magic Tree" is an Indian adaption of the "Magic Shop". It takes into concern, that Magic Moments are still part of the day to day life in (rural) India.   The Magic Shop / Magic Tree method helps in short term interventions in a playfull manner - mostly within a group setting - to empower the personal growth and development. Wishfullfiling Trees you can see all over India. They are called Kalpavriksha. The idea derives from the well known Samudra Manthan story (Churning over the ocean of Milk), which is part of the Indian wisdom. And it is in daily use of millions of believers. To get something from the tree, (a) you have to approach the tree and thus admit your need; (b) you have to be clear what you need; (c) you depict it in some way (d) you give as a symbol this wish out of your hands and out of the power of doing it yourself and hang it on the tree. (e) in many places there is a little shrine attached to the tree. In order to reach the tree properly you have to crawl through a narrow gap. All people surronding you will see it and you have to humble yourself and do some effort to become small again. The Magic tree work uses the same: a) admid your need in apporach b) name your need c) take a symbol, d) give it away as to looses the effort of self-doing e) make some symbolic joyful journey. There will be a difference in Wishfulfilling tree and Magic tree: a) The wishfulfilling tree mostly is approached to get children: the Magic tree will grant only attitudes, virtudes and skills, not Humans. b) After you get what you want from the wishfulfilling tree, you do pooja and offer goods to God; with the Magic tree you have to surend some of yur greatest strenght immediatly and do "Pooja" on the spot. c) With a Magic tree you even can dump difficulties and incapacities and faults (but you have to give something of value as a pooja!).
Psychodrama with Prison Inmates
Introduction/background This is a brief sharing about the experience and learnings from a group intervention with female prison inmates, in India. This was designed and facilitated by two Psychodrama practitioners: Rashmi Datt (CP, PAT) and Manasi Chopra (CP). The project was called ‘Pragati’ and it was run at the Bhondsi jail in Haryana, India in collaboration with India Vision Foundation (IVF) – a NGO that works towards the reform and reintegration of inmates across prisons in India, for many decades now. This was a two month long intervention spread across 8 weeks - about 24 hours. The group comprised 15-20 female inmates, for a period of 2 months. The two broad goals were: 1) To help the inmates prepare emotionally and mentally for their release in their re-entry to a free society 2)Build social intelligence to know oneself and others. However, the actual goals and needs of the group emerged only after we had conducted a few sessions with them. Initial Experience  Resistance V/S ‘not warmed-up’ When we began working with the group, we were faced with a lot of hesitation and even disruption from the group members. All of these behaviors would be labelled as ‘resistance’ in therapy or counselling. But in the context of Psychodrama as we relate it to what Moreno mentioned, resistance in an individual or group is a lack of warm-up. He believed an individual and/or group needs to warm up to change, as change often brings anxiety, and that resistance was primarily a lack of warm-up to a new role. Approach  Our foremost objectives were to invoke engagement and interest in the members and develop a sense of trust. We began by observing what they liked/enjoyed doing, and using that in our sessions. We learnt in the first session itself that they loved to dance and sing and movement kept them engaged. Therefore, from the next session we started introducing some simple theatre games – passing the clap, passing multiple balls while calling out names, freeze and walk, etc. After each game we would sit in a circle and ask the members to share how they felt about the game and their role/participation in it. This became a rhythm for our sessions - we would have a game/activity followed by sharing, then another activity. The idea was to introduce warm-ups which were much more pleasant for the group members, as opposed to confronting them directly. We would often end the sessions with ‘bhajan singing’- which a lot of them enjoyed and connected with. Another discovery was that most participants enjoyed short guided meditations, so we would use that to ground and center the group when needed. Gradually we moved to more exploratory activities – role plays, body sculpts, locograms -, the sharing became richer and more reflective, and the sense of a group with common goals started emerging. This approach helped us slowly build what Blatner (1973, p. 36) calls “the necessary conditions for spontaneous behavior”: “…(a) a sense of trust and safety, (b) a receptivity to intuitions, images, feeling, and other non-rational mental processes; (c) a bit of playfulness – so one doesn’t feel overidentified with the success of every move in the process – and (d) a movement toward risk taking and exploration into novelty” (Blatner,1996, p. 43, see also Moreno, 1983). Spontaneity In our work with the group, it was a constant endeavour to see what the members participate in, where their energy lies and what would touch the ‘Spontaneität’ in them. Moreno created psychodrama in order to help the participants to live their life more spontaneously. Healthy spontaneity, in psychodrama terms, is the quality of choosing a new and effective response to an old situation. Creativity is the result of healthy spontaneity, fueling new ideas and behaviors. We observed that as the sessions progressed, so did the spontaneity and creativity of the members. They would quickly take up body postures, movements, in the games we played and towards the end of the sessions, we saw this translating to them trying out roles that they usually would not take up. Power of Choice An important goal for us was to encourage the group members to see that they have the power to ‘choose’, that they have a sense of agency. In their situation of being imprisoned, it was easy to feel helpless, feel like they had no choice. We therefore wanted them to become aware of the many other aspects of their present reality where they could exercise their choice – and to see that the choices they make have an impact on them and their environment. This was our way of making the inmates feel empowered. Because without choice we are mere ‘victims’ and with the power of choice and creativity is how we can truly become the ‘Creator’.  “More important than evolution of creation is the Evolution of the creator” (Moreno, Invitation to an Encounter)  In the beginning we gave the inmates a choice to be part of the group or not. In later sessions the members would choose what games they’d like to play, and even made us play games that they knew from their childhood. They chose to have music played so they could dance, during break time. Through the role-play and locogram exercises they got in touch with the choices they make and the possible ‘new’ choices that they can make. In the locogram we did in the last session, they moved to each position to ‘try out’ the different choices and see where they’d like to be/move. This was a big shift from the passivity most of them exhibited in the beginning. Conclusion My experience with this group taught me many lessons, the most important one being, to let my assumed goals/objectives take a backseat and let the group drive the show, while I partner with them and be a “process facilitator”. “In spite of the many tasks, the role of the director does not correspond to the image of a controlling, “all-powerful” manipulator, but to that of a process facilitator: He does not design the event according to his own image and values, but is merely a methodical and psychological expert, who enables the protagonist or the entire group to achieve their own goals.” (Falko von Ameln • Jochen Becker-Ebel Fundamentals of Psychodrama) Psychodrama and sociometric exercises/activities can seem intimidating to a group where members are completely new to group work/therapeutic intervention and they are in a vulnerable setting. In those cases the conductor(s) can use a combination of methods/tools to firstly instil trust and safety – amongst the group members, between the group and the conductor(s) and pertaining to the process – since without trust, group members may not feel comfortable performing action methods or exploring issues or conflicts. The key message and learning is that these methods/tools work best when aligned with the interests and comfort level of the group, as that increases chances of the members being engaged and willing to participate.  Unwillingness/hesitation from the members to participate should not be seen as ‘resistance’, but as an indication that the group is not ‘warmed-up’. References
  1. Fundamentals of Psychodrama - Falko von Ameln Jochen Becker-Ebel
  2. Karp, M., Holmes, P. and Tauvon, K.B., eds. (1998). The Handbook of Psychodrama.
  3. Rene F. Marineau - Jacob Levy Moreno, 1889-1974: Father of Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy
Manasi Chopra, CP
Psychodrama at Doha
We are a learning group with three psychodrama trainees (Shaheen, Jinesh and me, Kabeer) and one certified Psychodrama Director ( Ms. Chaitali Shetty CP ) in Qatar. We meet once in every month with an average participation of 10 members. We met at Inspire Training Academy on January 30th where we applied psychodrama (protagonist play) for personal work. Ms. Chaitali Shetty CP led the process. Guests are welcome.
Psychodrama Training group started at Coimbatore
In Feb. 2019 the first all Indian trainers formal Psychodrama Training group started at Coimbatore. This group had successful meetings to learn Psychodrama in April, August and October and will meet a conclude their “Psychodrama Leadership Programm” in Dec. 2019. Most will continue in 2020. New participants can join. The program is organized by ASHA CHILD, Coimbatore and supported by Vedadrama India. See the participants with their Trainer Madhu Shukla PAT (Practitioner and Trainer, first row middle), Bangalore and Raguraman K, CPP (550 hours; to the right), from Coimbatore.
Training at nift with staff and guests
The Director of NIFT New Delhi asked Dr. Jochen Becker-Ebel to interact with the staff of NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) to improve the educational and counselling skills. Apart from Professors of NIFT some staff of other universities and a group of coaches from Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and even Doha attended. The 20 participants of this weekend course (Friday / Saturday) got a great introduction into Psychodrama and Sociometry and its application in Teaching and they had fun. Next to trainer Dr. Becker-Ebel (first row center) are Ms. Rashmi Datt (Co-trainer, PAT, to his left) and as well Dr. Sunita Chugh (Co-Trainer to his right), who is a teacher at NIFT too.
Coimbatore exam Feb. 2019
From 2015 to 2018 a group of 14 participants from Coimbatore studied Psychodrama. The course had a duration of 550 training hours. Mr. Klaus Harter took the exam in Dec. 2018 After attending a final theory class in Feb. 2019 with Dr. Karen Drucker TEP and Dr. Steven Durost, both TSM Trainers in Traumatherapy Nine participants received their certificates jointly issued by MIEÜ, Asha CHILD and Vedadrama India Pvt. Ltd. Among the certified participants if Mr. Raguraman, the new co-trainer of the second Coimbatore group. On the picture is Saru, the founder of Asha CHILD, Dr. Jochen, the founder of Vedadrama and the two American trainers chasing out the balance of exam fear in the room, while the participants smiling.
Bangalore group the TSM model of psychodramatic Trauma-therapy
Dr. Steven Durost, founder of a Expressive arts training center near Boston, USA, and Dr. Karen Drucker, TEP, boths TSM trainers of the were teaching to an enlarged Bangalore group the TSM model of psychodramatic Trauma-therapy. Participants from India, Qatar and Finland / India attended. They come again in Feb. 2020, pls join either at Delhi or at Bangalore. Limited seats are available.
Model of Trauma-therapy through Psychodrama
In Feb. 2019 the Model of Trauma-therapy through Psychodrama was brought to Coimbatore by the TSM (Therapeutic spiral Model) Trainers DR. Steven Durost and Dr. Karen Drucker from USA. This open four day workshop had been full of fun and deep insides.
The Harvard Library at Boston
Tired: After a long day of reading the original letters of J L Moreno to Indian Experts in the historical part of the Harvard Library at Boston in May 2019.
Mumbai wonderful Psychodrama Introduction
At Mumbai Santosh Babu and his team of ODA organized a wonderful Psychodrama Introduction for this 20 people from OD sector (HRD, Coaching, Universities) at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai in September 2019. Soon a full 16 days program will start at Mumbai.
New Delhi Group meeting
The New Delhi Group, meeting at the Andaz Hotel at Aerocity had wonderful days in August 2019.
Delhi october 2019
The Delhi Group continues with New members.
Bangalore August 2019
The second large Bangalore group with Guest trainer from Taiwan: Jarly PAT completed four wonderful and inspiring days of Psychodrama training.
Dehli August 2019
The new group at New Delhi – Gurgaon had a fantastic start: Rashmi Datt CP with Seema Naik CP as Trainer/co-trainer and Savita Dhawan TEP as visiting trainer.
Psychodrama Director – certified Practitioner CP
On August 11st 2019 the first large group of Vedadrama India Pvt. Ltd. participants were certified after 4 to 5 years of learning as “Psychodrama Director – certified Practitioner CP”. Klaus Harter, Germany and Savita Dhawan TEP, Germany/India were the examiners. Congratulations to the 14 who passed.
IAC meeting: Dr Jochen got elected to the Board
At Moncton, New Braunswig, Canada the International Association for Counselling held the annual meeting together with the Canadian association for Counselling CCPA. Dr Jochen was elected as to the board of IAC and got a free annual membership of CCPA.
Jochen at asgpp
Dr Jochen Becker-Ebel presented a workshop on Advaita and Psychodrama at the ASGPP Conference 2019.
Vedadrama at NYU
Adj. Prof. Dr. Jochen Becker-Ebel with Ass. Prof. Nisha Sajnani, Associate Professor and Director, Drama Therapy Program at New York University teaching. Dr Jochen will teach there in April 2020. NYU was the University Dr J L Moreno was teaching some 80 year back.
Dr Jochen at the original Moreno stage
Adj. Prof Dr Jochen Becker-Ebel visited the Original Moreno stage at the Hudson valley institute in May 2019.
Dr Jochen at TSM International at Dr Stevens house
Adj. Prof Dr Jochen Becker-Ebel met Dr Kate Hudgins and the full TSM staff at the house of Dr Steven Durost near Manchester, NH, USA. Steven and Karen Drucker will teach at Delhi and Bangalore in Feb. 2020 the TSM Modell of psychodrama Trauma-Therapy.
Vedadrama Education IAC accredited
Great news for the new year: IAC acrdited the Executive Education programms of Vedadrama India in Humanistic Psychodrama. IAC is the international umbrella organisation for therapy, counselling and coaching.
18 participants from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Bejing, Delhi, Bangalore, Mangalore and Europe participated at the first University certificate course in Psychodrama from Dec. 6th to 9th 2018 at Mangalore. Dr. Jochen Becker-Ebel, Adjunct Professor for Psychodrama conducted the course together with Ms. Chaitali Shetty from Doha (front row centre) and Ms. Haseena Abdullah from Manipal (to her left)        
Preparation meet at Doha for the first psychodrama Training: Feb 2nd and 3rd 2018    
Coimbatore Group Meets~Trainers Batch
The colorful Coimbatore group meets for the fifth time for two days. The two year program will follow now. Sorry. No places are free.
Delhi/Gurgaon Group Commences
The new Group at New Delhi/Gurgaon started with 25 participants. Most of them decided to go for a two years journey which will start in July 2017. Places on a waiting list are still free.
Leadership Certifications in Chennai Batch
Three participants got the leadership (one year) certification in Psychodrama at Chennai: Dr Mohan, Jayashree and Anandh.
CPP certificate
Three participants got CPP certificate (2.5 years)  in the first Bengaluru group: Aruna, Sudha, Madhu.
Certification day at Hamburg for Andreas with Helmut Schwehm and Jochen Becker-Ebel
CPP certificate
Mr AK Saravanan got his CPP certificate through Klaus Ernst Harter and Jochen Becker-Ebel