A short history of Psychodrama Australia

Psychodrama Australia

Psychodrama Australia is a collaboration formed of the passion, interest, and dedication of a number of psychodrama training institutes in Australia. These include The Moreno Collegium in Brisbane, Psychodrama NSW in Sydney, Australian College of Psychodrama in Melbourne, Western Institute of Psychodrama in Perth, and the Action Methods Institute in Adelaide.

Annual Retreats

The trainers in these institutes met annually mid-year for over a decade to progress their learning together, refine their teaching, and support one another. The AANZPA Board of Examiners joined with us for these retreats to work alongside us, and this usually meant we had some trainers from Aotearoa New Zealand. At these 4-day retreats we focused on many areas of our learning and teaching practice including psychodrama theory, practice and training, group-work and group-work theory, formative assessment and evaluation, course structure, accreditation issues, external accreditation (PACFA), administrative issues and, most importantly, our relationships with one another.

One organisation?

In 2011 at one of our mid-year retreats, we discussed the possibility of forming one organisation. There were numerous perspectives on what this one organisation could look like and reasonable reluctance to not increase our combined workload. The focus instead was to work out what the new organisation would offer our current and future trainees, and could it make our work easier.

A working party made up of Annette Fisher, Rollo Browne, Peter Howie, and Jenny Hutt was formed and met twice between the national mid-year retreats in Adelaide at Annette Fisher’s place in the ACT. At these meetings we began to consider the advantages of being one organisation. As psychodramatists we began to function ‘as if’ we were one organisation and this assisted us to really take on the advantages, and alert us to the disadvantages, of being one organisation. We concluded that the advantages were significant while the problems were manageable.

Yes, one organisation!

The next time the mid year retreat was held there was unanimous agreement to transition to one organisation. Another working party was formed for this purpose. This existing group now had the expertise of Dr Tony Densley and we met at his place in Adelaide, twice, between national retreats. There we hunkered down and devised a workable legal structure, with viable policies and procedures, that we could both recommend to our colleagues and feel confident would be a progressive step for psychodrama training in Australia.

Psychodrama Australia Ltd

In July 2013 we met at our retreat as trainers of those five institutes for the last time. At that meeting we agreed to wind up our respective state based institutes and then signed-up for Psychodrama Australia Ltd, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee (The documents are available on the Essential Documents button above or click here).

The new structure

The structure of this website reflects the single organizational structure of Psychodrama Australia. You will find our events listed in date order from around Australia. Each campus has its own section with its own events. You can contact each campus directly from our Contact button up the top of each page. You can leave your details with your local campus so that we can keep you updated on local events. You can also read the bios of the staff of the faculty at each campus.


General History of Psychodrama In Australia

Psychodrama in Australia had various roots.  

Max Clayton attended occasional training weekends at the Moreno Institute in Beacon New York from 1967 and completed his psychodrama training there after returning to Beacon from Australia in 1972.  Max’s training was a broad one as he had studied for a doctorate in Pastoral Theology at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley California (1965-70) and certification in Clinical Pastoral Education.

Lynette Clayton trained as an intern and then resident in the psychodrama department and was on the staff at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. She received her initial certification there in 1969.  The St. Elizabeth’s program included group work training and clinical lectures with other interns and systems theory with its application to organizational consultancy.

Teena Lee had also trained at the Moreno Institute and set up an institute in Melbourne when she returned to Australia.

When the Wasley Centre was set up as a training and service agency of the Uniting Church in 1975 it contained, amongst other sub-organizations, the Psychodrama Institute of W.A. which had been set up as a partnership and conducted in the manse of the church in which Max returned to Australia as minister.  The Wasley Centre programme included strong elements of the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital training program as well as the Moreno Institute program.

The Wasley Centre evolved to develop streams of training in psychodrama as a clinical tool, sociodrama as a tool to understand culture and society, sociometry as a tool in organizational consultancy, role training as a tool in staff training and role expansion and spontaneity training (playback theatre, street theatre, group art, clown workshops) applying action methods in the arts.  Various significant practitioners and trainers specialised in different areas and the Wasley Centre became a centre for residential three month workshops and brought internationally trained trainers to Australia to enrich the program of training nationally.

In the mid 1970’s the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama was set up after Moreno’s death and recognized both the St Elizabeth’s training and the Moreno training and accredited Max, Lynette and Tina as Trainer Educator and Practitioners.

In 1980, a psychodrama association, now the AANZPA, was set up in Australia to develop institutes, train and accredit trainers who each work under an Institute, and to set up an organized training with written standards and a separate Board of Examiners to ensure that standards of training were met.  Many significant leaders have evolved and Chris Hosking as the inaugural editor of the ANZPA Journal contributed a great deal to the development of a culture of excellence in writing, innovative thinking and creative presentation.  A number of members contributed to training overseas in Playback Theatre and Psychodrama and Sociometry training.  Max Clayton and his wife Chris Hosking have contributed greatly in nurturing the development of psychodrama overseas.

In Australia, a series of Presidents of the Association with their committees, and the Secretarys of the Board of Examiners have continued the legacy of professionalism and the creative development of the Association. Research and writing has continued and made its contribution to maintaining lively dialogue.

At the time of writing, we are remembering Max’s great contribution at the time of his recent death.  He leaves us, not only with a passion for the method but an integrated structure in which it can have a continued life.  It is a great contribution indeed.

Lynette Clayton April 2013

The Histories of Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney are under construction.