Over 16.000.000 Dutch inhabitants live on ± 34.000 km2. Our ca 10.000.000 neighbours in Belgium live on ± 30.000 km2. So both our countries are densely populated. Before the computer came, important things could happen in our countries without becoming widely known. At several places appeared people to start, to invent, to set up comparable projects. That happened to psychodrama in The Netherlands. Many of us invented the wheel, each in his own way.
So distinctly as Belgium (Pierre Fontaine) could describe the two tracks (French speaking and Dutch speaking) of psychodrama from the very beginning, so incomplete are the impressions of the initial period of psychodrama in The Netherlands. There is not a coordinating initiator or organised club of interested psychodramatists
in the period 1940-1970. Accidentally psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and dramatists came in touch with psychodrama, in every possible way: an unforeseen contact, a visit for training to America, a congress, an article. Some became excited about psychodrama and looked for more training or education. They found it in Beacon USA (Moreno Institute), Paris, Germany, Belgium and other places; others became auxiliaries with these first users and developed their expertise that way. Also the latter group became valued directors of psychodrama. One thing all of them had in common: they didn’t organise themselves as a group.
From about 1960 the development of psychodrama in The Netherlands got influenced by yearly organised International Congresses of Psychodrama in the important cities in Europe. Every time many Dutch participated and always a lot of invitations of foreign trainers and educators followed. Stimulator in this phase was for instance Pierre Fontaine (from Belgium!).
In this period the exclusive ownership of psychodrama seemed to belong to the clinical group psychotherapy. Only in psychotherapeutic context psychodrama was used and passed on. An explicit preference for academically trained users (psychologists, psychiatrists) was unquestionable. Hesitatingly some social workers, pastors, teachers, became acquainted and searched for an education in psychodrama. In the later seventies International training groups, led by Dean and Doreen Elefthery from Miami USA, gathered beside professionals in the psychotherapeutic field, more and more representatives of several other disciplines.
Another interesting track is that Joke Meillo (social worker and Beacon certified -1975- director of psychodrama and trainer -1980- of the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama) introduced a psychodrama program in several clinical settings. The name of her activities changed from psychodrama into sociodrama, and as such her work was continued, up to the present time, in over more than forty mental health institutions.
The history of psychodrama in the Netherlands is more traceable from the eighties. From 1980 several training facilities arose: University of Leiden (Jan Dijkhuis, Riek Horstink, Lex Mulder), Het Dean-huis in Sint-Oedenrode (Jan Lap, Marjorie Streur), Psychodrama Academie in Arnhem (Adeline Salomé-Finkelstein), School for Psychodrama in Sittard and Utrecht (Renée Oudijk), and possibly some others! It is typical for the Dutch situation in the eighties, that these educational institutions indeed knew about each others existence, but hardly tried to get in contact with each other. Those schools generally had broadened their scopes: psychodrama could also be applied in e.g. education, correctional centres, pastoral contexts, management training, conflict management, nursing homes, communication training, supervision. Another interesting development was: one could become a psychodramatist without being university trained.
In the following about twenty years psychodrama in The Netherlands came in a phase of a proceeding search for more structure, clarity and professionalizing. Underneath this historical review you will find all to days Dutch psychodrama training institutions, FEPTO-member and not (yet). FEPTO-membership helps to make things more clear. Different schools sharpened their curriculum. Other institutions originated from former ones, new schools came up. One fully psychotherapy directed training recently started (2004) as an activity of the psychodrama sector of the NVGP Dutch Association of Group Psychotherapy
An old Dutch problem stayed: there is a tendency to see oneself as the very best, and nowhere psychodrama could be as good as in the own institute. Nevertheless various efforts were undertaken in order to come on speaking terms and to cooperate. Some of them with success, for instance two totally different institutes combined recently their staffs and give together a basic and an advanced course (2007). The next three paragraphs are, in historical order, other examples of successful actions in a more general context.
After the examination of the first basic group from The School of Psychodrama in Utrecht/Sittard the successful candidates decided to found the Association for Psychodrama (VvP, Vereniging voor Psychodrama, 1990). In this way they could stay in touch with each other, had a guarantee for further professional input and they opened a door for psychodrama interested people from other institutions. The Association started a Bulletin, for psychodrama related communication. The VvP grew and obtained an accrediting position at FEPTO. Unfortunately still the VvP is not the all and everyone interlinking institution. Many psychodramatists prefer to work on their own and find their contacts and professional help by attending accidental congresses, workshops or training weekends.
Another remarkable event is the establishment (1997) of the NBES (Dutch-Belgium Examination Statute for Psychodrama, Sociometry, Group psychotherapy, Sociodrama and Role training Foundation). This is a cooperative project of outstanding Belgian and Dutch psychodrama training organisations. The aim is to organise examinations that meet the requirements of national boards elsewhere (American, Australian, Nordic) for the international CP and TEP titles, as well as to organise courses offering a thorough preparation for the intended practical and theoretical examinations.
Recently many Dutch psychodramatists met at the International Conference 40 years Elefthery’s psychodrama in Europe (May, 2008). They came from different schools and educations. The surplus value: meeting each other and acknowledging and celebrating the differences was evidently felt. It was a learning festival, particularly since nobody claimed the truth and the legacy of the “old parents”. It was clear: psychodrama is like a tree with many different branches and shoots. Our roots are the same, but these roots allow a lot of variety in evolvement. Continuing post conference activities generate for the Dutch speaking psychodramatists a new forum for exchange of ideas, new forms, markets, techniques and whatever. It is still in a phase of making, it will have a internet component and will be open to all people interested in psychodrama, who want to share and receive.
Psychodrama in the Netherlands is an adventure, a challenge to get to know and an interesting melting-pot of ideas, persons, institutes and traditions. Please feel welcome to interrogate us about everything. In spite of our history we are good neighbours, we are eager to learn and we enjoy sharing our findings!
Training institutions: The Netherlands have a variety of training institutions. Some of them have a complete education: basic and advanced training, preparing for CP-training; others have only basic courses or a training for particular target groups (e.g. business, managers).
Psychodrama Education NVGP
Bureau ‘De Paperclip’,
Annita van den Ouden,
St. Joostmeet 3,
4301 JS Zierikzee
Voor inhoudelijke vragen:
firstname.lastname@example.org (P. de Laat)
De Rolwissel, centre for psychodrama
Anita Naus, CP
Het Balkon, Centre for personal and professional development
7661 RA Vasse
+31(0)541 – 518194
Lex Mulder Training & Coaching
06 – 54981530
Vereniging voor Psychodrama (VvP)
NL – 3607 PV MAARSSEN, The Netherlands
+31 346 570 493
Secr. Nicole Saenen
Gent BE-9000, Belgium