A young man shook his head in shame and embarrassment. An offhand remark to a client had resulted in a rift in the therapeutic relationship. He wanted with all his being to repair it.
Now, among peers, he explored the event. Not a single person said, “Well, this is what you should do.”
No need. Through Forum Theater, the group of learners at the recent Goddard Clinical Mental Health Counseling Residency enacted a number of ways this young man could address what happened with his client.
Forum Theater is part of Theater of the Oppressed, first developed by Brazilian actor and activist, Augusto Boal. In Forum Theater, no one gives advice. Instead, participants act out the change they would like to see. Guidance is provided by the “Joker.” That was me.
I was introduced to Theater of the Oppressed by Dr. Wendy Phillips during my time as a Master’s candidate at Goddard. I brought this experience to the Spring 2017 Residency workshop. I pursued further study and training through a fellow Goddard student who had studied directly with Augusto Boal. I utilize Theater of the Oppressed techniques extensively in my work. Currently I am developing a family-stress workshop for our community which will include Forum Theater. To that end, I plan to attend Advanced Joker Training at Theatre of the Oppressed NYC later this year.
A result was this moment with a group of engaged and committed learners. From the “roots up” we explored how issues of gender, status, and privilege impacted a counselor’s decisions. Further, he began to form a healing response to the challenge he faced with his client.
I was honored to learn from the learners. I believe all of us went from the workshop wiser than when we first gathered.
That is the essence of Goddard. .
To learn more about how to incorporate Forum Theater and other Theater of the Oppressed forms into your psychology practice, contact John Eichenberger, LMHC, CASAC, at Hope and Help Counseling, firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to website www.hopeandhelpcounseling.net or on Facebook ‘Hope and Help Counseling – Fairport and Geneva.”