“It Can Be Done”

RWTG returns from Belfast, Northern Ireland having presented the play Rounding Third, by Richard Dresser, at the 14th (and final) Annual Northern Ireland Group Psychotherapy Conference. The play was selected for its dramatic resonance with the conference theme, “It Can Be Done: The Power of Group to Bear the Unbearable.”

The production featured RWTG guest artists Liz Marsh and Yavar Moghimi as Coach Don and Assistant Coach Mike respectively, and was directed by Rob Williams. Bob Schulte served as Executive Producer for the RWTG.

This annual training conference was originally conceived and continuously sponsored by the Boston-Threshold Group, group therapy colleagues from Boston, USA and Northern Ireland dedicated to the promotion of the theory and practice of group psychotherapy. The founders of the Boston-Threshold Group are Cecil A. Rice, PhD, Raman Kapur, PhD, Kathleen Ulman, PhD and Patricia Doherty, EdD. This conference was the concluding program of their joint venture.

The conference featured two days of workshops, process and large group meetings to meet the training needs of group therapists working in and beyond the Belfast, Northern Ireland community. Many in attendance were staff members from Threshold, a network of therapeutic community clinics dedicated to “be at the threshold of developments in mental health for people at risk or recovering from mental illness so that they are enabled to live full and independent lives in the community” in Northern Ireland.

Guest faculty for this conference included Richard Beck, Bonnie Buchele, Donald Murphy, Debra Schwartz Kuhn, Claire Bacha, David Kennard, Bob Schulte, Rob Williams, Liz Marsh and Yavar Moghimi.

Our heartfelt thanks go especially to Sara Emerson and Hallie Lovett, Conference Co-chairs, Dr. Raman Kapur, C.E.O. of Threshold and Loretta Strong, Administration Manager, for their support of RWTG and the conference faculty serving the conference.

When asked to share some of their reflections of the experience, the actors, director and producer offered these comments:

Rob (Director): Working with our team, working with Bob to craft the experience of Rounding Third to fit the conference theme and assisting Liz and Yavar in fully experiencing their roles was like playing out a whole season of little league, with many ups and downs and challenges along the way. Taking on the new role of coach (director) was a way to both invigorate and expand in new directions. I found myself being part Coach Don and part Coach Mike as we drilled and practiced and anticipated the big game. Watching Liz and Yavar’s captivating reading of the play, followed by the work that was done by those in attendance at the conference in large and small group sessions was an emotional high point of my year. Just like Little League, for inning after inning, I keep coming back to the Red Well experience, as something that I value and want to keep in my life.

Liz (Coach Don/Dawn): Being in Belfast and being part of the Threshold Conference was an increadible experience for me for many reasons. First of all, the conference was an opportunity for me to interact with the global group psychotherapy community and to learn from different perspectives. It was also increadible to be part of the faculty for this event. As a young practitioner, it was an invaluable experience to be taken in by the more experienced members of the team. I learned a lot from watching the planning and processing of the faculty and it meant a lot to me that my opinions and observations were taken into account. In terms of the play…. wow! I was expecting that it would be received well and that there would be a powerful discussion afterwards, but what happened was much more than that. It became the go-to point of reference, the common metaphor for the rest of the conference. It was indescribable to be part of something that really became a communication tool as the conference went on. That was the biggest surprise for me and also the biggest gift. I came back from Belfast rejuvenated personally, spiritually, and professionally. I also feel much closer to my RWTG team members (an added bonus). What a great experience… a real homerun!

Yavar (Coach Mike): As I sat in the large group meeting after our performance of Rounding Third, I realized that everyone was reliving the play and applying it to our shared experience of being together, but in different ways. Coach Mike spoke to the side of the group that wanted the season to go on, for the partnership to last forever. Coach Don spoke to the side of the group that was accepting the season was over and that we had to part ways. Throughout our two days together, the play continued to be a reference point for the shared loss and reflection. It made me appreciate the power of stories for making sense and naming our experience.

Bob (Producer): I was very moved by the emotional depth that Liz and Yavar were able to reach in their portrayals of Coach Don and Assistant Coach Mike. Naturally gifted as actors, their clinical skill and empathy were clearly at play in their collaborative efforts. Rob’s debut as a stage director was a joy for all of us at RWTG to witness. The future is now!