Group nr 1
Name: Workshop Group in a Psychiatric Hospital (Poland)
In January 2018 a pilot workshop group was established in the Dr Józef Babinski Specialized Hospital in Cracow: http://lifescience.pl/en/members/healthcare-med/dr-jozef-babinski-specialised-hospital-in-cracow.
The workshop sessions were conducted by Maria Schejbal, supported by Małgorzata Starzyńska-Majsak and Jolanta Kajmowicz-Sopicka from Grodzki Theatre, and also by the medical staff of the Hospital.
30 outpatients of the Day Care Department participated in theatrical activities altogether. They suffer from severe mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, dementia. 10 workshop sessions lasting 2,5-3 hours each were organized on a weekly basis. Two presentations of short puppetry scenes created by the patients took place during the workshop cycle which ended in March 2018.
An evaluation of the pilot workshops was carried out through interviewing both the participants (the patients) and medical staff, and also with the use of written evaluation forms. The feedback gathered from them confirms the usefulness of using puppetry art and psychodrama-related methods in psychiatric treatment.
Presented below are the opinions – testimonies by the group members and psychologists employed in the hospital.
Working with the puppet means struggling. The beginning was just fun – making the figure. Quick, easy, nice. But performing proved to be one of the most difficult experiences in my life. Like passing the Baccalaureate. Yes, the final presentation was extremely difficult. I am glad I managed not to run away.
For me it was not difficult to perform, since I was active in theatre before. Although, I did not work with puppets, I find it very interesting. It was kind of a self-projection experience.
I will miss these workshops. Even though they brought to the surface some difficult feelings, we had a chance to express ourselves and to tell our own life stories.
It was a surreal experience. To play myself. It felt like watching myself from the distance. Through participation in the workshops we got the picture of ourselves.
I ended my theatrical scene with a gesture of victory. This was not only a theatrical action – this gesture was authentic. It belongs not only to theatre but also to real life.
Yes, even though we play different characters on stage, we play ourselves. This is a true identification with the puppet.
These workshops enriched our therapy program for sure. Generally speaking the positive therapeutic effect on patients can be visible. I did not expect that patients would be so sensitive to puppet theatre. Psychotherapy is always the result of the interaction of a number of different factors, so it is difficult to say what exactly caused certain effects. But, for instance, I think that X would not be able to express himself so deeply in any other activities we propose here in the hospital. And Y – as he declared himself – decided not to stop the therapy thanks to the workshops. He stayed in the hospital to participate in these workshops, even though he planned to leave. Also, it is always valuable if the patients want to express something important for them and work on such problematic issue. The mutual confidence is needed for that and thanks to the workshops the trust level in the group has increased for sure. On the other hand, I think that a direct “translation” of the workshop experience into real life can be difficult, since these are two different realities. Psychotherapy can be compared to magic in a way. Not easy to asses and measure in some cases. But there are some obvious things. The workshops were anticipated by patients and according to what they said – very much appreciated and attractive.
REPORTS FROM THE WORKSHOP SESSIONS