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Dr. John Sherry, Birgit Laskowski, MEd, Terrace Campus, Kim Brown, MEd, PG Campus, Christie Wittig, MEd PG Campus, Nicole Robinson, MEd – Counseling (2012) PG, Judy Letendre, MEd, Terrace Campus.
NEWS RELEASE · 18th January 2013
A professor at the University of Northern British Columbia is bringing a distinctive group therapy method known as “psychodrama” to northern BC. In the past year, UNBC Assistant Professor of Education John Sherry and his Master of Education-Counseling students, all of whom hail from Terrace and Prince George, have been holding psychodrama training sessions for health professionals and group practitioners across the region, most recently at the Aboriginal Youth Conference in Terrace.

Psychodrama is a form of group therapy, in which clients use spontaneous dramatization, role playing, and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives. By closely recreating real-life situations, and acting them out in the present, the method can provide clients the opportunity to evaluate their behavior and more deeply understand a particular situation in their lives.

“It is my understanding that psychodrama has been tried in northern BC before, usually with a guest practitioner who comes here from a large city and then returns the next day, but until now there hasn’t been a supportive presence in the North,” says Dr. Sherry, who is also the Clinical Director of UNBC’s Community Care Centre in Prince George, which will be hosting a number of psychodrama training sessions for members of the community. “Along with the benefits, catharsis, and relief it can provide, in certain situations, psychodrama can leave people feeling rather raw and emotional so it’s important to have qualified local support.”

The next psychodrama training session will be hosted at UNBC’s Community Care Centre, and co-sponsored with the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA) on February 2nd. “Having the Community Care Centre in downtown Prince George is vital to the success of this type of work. The Centre is a great support system for the Prince George community,” says Dr. Sherry.

Last year, Dr. Sherry and his students summarized their findings at the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama Conference in Jersey City, New Jersey, and will be presenting more of their work at a national conference in Arlington, Virginia in April. Their presentation involves the benefits and challenges of providing this form of therapy for northern, rural, and aboriginal populations.

“It’s very satisfying to bring a new tool to the therapeutic toolbox for northern British Columbians,” says Dr. Sherry, who came to UNBC four years ago from New Jersey City University in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he also grew up. “Whether you live in a rural or urban setting, the more therapeutic assets and assistance you can provide a community, the better off it will be.”