“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!

Northern Ireland Group Psychotherapy Conference, August 2011

RWTG travels to Belfast, Northern Ireland August 11 & 12, 2011 for the 14th annual Northern Ireland Group Psychotherapy Conference, entitled “It Can be Done: The Power of the Group to Bear The Unbearable”. RWTG will present the play, Rounding Third, by Richard Dresser as the opening plenary presentation to begin the conference. The conference will feature two days of workshops, talks, and process groups for participating group therapists from the Belfast, Northern Ireland area.

Rob Williams makes his directorial debut in this repertory production that features Liz Marsh and Yavar Moghimi in the roles of Coach Don and Assistant Coach Mike. Bob Schulte is serving as Executive Producer. RWTG member Hallie Lovett serves on the Planning Committee for the Conference, and is assisting the creative team in their preparations to travel to Belfast.

Rounding Third is the tumultuous journey of two American Little League coaches through an entire summer season, from their first tentative meeting to the climactic championship game. Don is the blue-collar, ‘win-at-all-costs’ veteran coach whose son is the star pitcher. Michael is a corporate, ‘it’s-how-you-play-the-game’ newcomer to game of baseball whose son is still learning the fundamentals. Despite their differences, Michael and Don form an uneasy alliance for the benefit of the team and their sons.

Over the course of exhilarating victories, heartbreaking defeats, and interminable rain delays, the two men struggle over how to best lead the team. Don thinks they should only be teaching the kids how to be winners, and thereby survive the rough and tumble of life. Michael believes they should be protecting the kids from the uglier side of competition while making sure everyone has a good time playing together. Out of these sometimes conflicting philosophies of competion and cooperation, deeper concerns emerge. What values should we instill in our children? How, and for how long, do we protect them from the harsher realities of adult life? How ultimately do we prepare them to survive and thrive in the 21st century?

RWTG will also present a workshop on Thursday afternoon, August 11 titled, Rehearsal for Living, inspired by J. L. Moreno’s famous dictum. This workshop will provide participants the opportunity to read from the play, Scenes from the Big Picture by Owen McAfferty (a play about contemporary Belfast, Northern Ireland) as a way to understand the interplay of past, present and imagined future in constructive change processes, both within and beyond the therapy group.

Bob Schulte

St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC

RWTG presented a play reading of ‘ART’ by Yasmina Reza, with post-performance discussion, as part of the psychiatry resident training day at Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast Washington, DC. The Group performed at the invitation of Farooq Mohyuddin, M.D., who is medical training director at Saint Elizabeth Hospital. The RWTG members performing the play included Rob Williams, John Dluhy and John Thomas. Bob Schulte served as stage director and discussion facilitator.

Bob Schulte

Hello Again New York!

RWTG presented a play reading with post-performance discussion at the APA Division 39 Section VIII (Couple and Family Therapy and Psychoanalysis) on April Saturday, April 16, 2011 in New York City. The workshop was entitled, “Complicated Grief: Exploring Couple and Family Dynamics in the Wake of the Death of a Young Child Through a Reading of the play Rabbit Hole. The RWTG actors included John and Mary Dluhy, Hallie Lovett, Rosemary Segalla, Rob Williams. Bob Schulte directed the play presentation portion of the program. The discussants were Molly Donovan and Bob Schulte. Joyce Lowenstein, PhD, President-Elect of Section VIII, served as discussion facilitator.

Bob Schulte

AGPA – New York 2011: Teenage Angst and Search for Identity

RWTG will travel to New York City in March to present Open Session 313, entitled “Using a Stage Play to Illustrate Principles of Dynamic Group Therapy” at the AGPA Annual Meeting on March 5th at 9am.

The Co-Chairs of the session are Bob Schulte and Molly Donovan. The panelists/cast members include Maryetta Andrews-Sachs, John Dluhy, Hallie Lovett, Liz Marsh, Kavita Avula, Yavar Moghimi and Rob Williams.Bob Schulte will direct the production. Molly Donovan will facilitate the post-performance audience discussion with the cast and director to explore the relevance of these themes to group therapy across the life cycle.

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, a play by Bert Royal, dramatizes the harmful effects of gay bashing, scapegoating and bullying behavior on the wellbeing of adolescents and young adults, whether they identify as gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, heterosexual or questioning. Imagine the Peanuts comic strip characters, only ten years older, struggling with teenage angst about sexuality, identity development and peer acceptance.

Bob Schulte