Child psychodrama - birthplace of Bergerhausen Castle

On the occasion of the 1st Psychodrama Congress for Working with Children and Adolescents Germany – Austria – Switzerland, Professor Dr. Hans-Werner Gessmann, the head of the Psychotherapeutic Institute Bergerhausen, opened the archive and presented film and text documents about the development of this form of therapy in Europe that were previously inaccessible to the public.

As early as 1974, when Moreno student Ella Mae Shearon was spending her sabbatical in Germany, she had completed her research on her thesis as a psychodrama director with an empirical thesis on the effectiveness of psychodrama therapy on the self-concept of 4th graders in elementary school. She was a brilliant practitioner on children’s psychodrama.

A few days after her arrival in Germany, E.M. Shearon presented the Moreno psychodrama at the Georg August University in Göttingen. She got to know Hans-Werner Gessmann in the further training course that was subsequently set up at the Cologne therapist collective. A collaboration developed that led both to European countries and also to the USA (New York, Chicago, De Land). In Germany, a psychodrama therapy group for dyslexic children was set up in Düsseldorf, which E. M. Shearon personally led continuously for over a year. From 1976, the training work with psychodrama training was moved to the Wasserburg Bergerhausen near Kerpen / Cologne. The first curricular training courses in child psychodrama took place here in weekend seminars. Every Saturday, parents had the opportunity to visit the Bergerhausen moated castle with their children and take part in the advanced training events on offer. Zerka Moreno was also a guest here, as were many other prominent psychodramatists from the USA, e.g. Ann Hale. Hildegard Pruckner visited us from Austria and was one of the first to work psychodramatically with children there. Special seminars were held for the Moreno Institutes in Stuttgart (child psychodrama in Gellnhausen, Rüdesheim) and Überlingen, and in Basel for Jean Paul Gonseth in Switzerland. Hans-Werner Gessmann led the training for Swiss special school teachers in St. Johann in the canton of St. Gallen.

From 1989 onwards, the social pedagogue Ingrid Sevecke and the special school pedagogue Stefanie Unsin took over the management of the psychodramatic training work with children at the Bergerhausen Psychotherapeutic Institute. You had been trained in humanistic psychodrama by Hans-Werner Gessmann for many years. Youtube: Child psychodrama. Research is currently being carried out on German-language literature on child psychodrama under the direction of special educator Markus Färber from Wuppertal. This documentation is to be published for the congress and provides an overview of the current state of development in this field.