Summer Academy 2024

Workshops and Lectures

Workshops Thu/Fri

Workshop 1 (E)
Therapy of gestures
The integration of psychophysical approaches from theater and therapy in trauma treatment
Dr. Jean-François Jacques

Gesture therapy is a specially developed methodological approach that uses embodiment to overcome and resolve expressions, patterns and symptoms resulting from post-traumatic stress, relational, developmental or complex trauma. It is a theater-inspired form of trauma therapy based on theater, drama, neuroscience and somatic psychology.
This workshop will introduce participants to this specially developed integrative psychophysical approach to trauma treatment, which aims to integrate insights and best clinical practice from a range of approaches to somatic trauma work, including Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Polyvagal Theory, as well as experiences from theater concepts that emphasize the connection between physicality and inner emotional life, in particular the teachings of actor and director Michael Chekhov and the concept of psychological gesture.

The workshop will be divided into two parts. The first part will deal with the psychophysiology and neurobiology of trauma and body-based treatment approaches. The second part will deal with the question of what a psychophysical trauma therapy based on theater could look like. Participants will have the opportunity to experience the different phases of this body-oriented practice and how it provides additional resources to facilitate and support body-oriented healing of trauma.

Workshop 2 (E)
Healing stories
Finding our own path in life through a folk tale
Prof. Dr. Mooli Lahad

The workshop will explore how a folktale can be a trigger for an inner search and a process of healing and discovery.

Workshop 3 (D)
Trauma and spirituality
Ingrid Lutz

“There is nothing in the world that enables a person to overcome external and internal crises as much as the awareness of having a purpose, a task in life that is greater than oneself.” (Viktor E. Frankl)

Traumatic experiences bring people close to death in real or emotional terms, confronting them with incomprehensible suffering and the previously unimaginable. This emotional upheaval, which is accompanied by the collapse of the entire world view and previous contexts of meaning, often leads – consciously or unconsciously – to a profound confrontation with fundamental existential questions such as: “Why am I in this world? What is the meaning of it all? Is there a meaning?”
The dissociative experience and its therapeutic processing often opens up other dimensions of perception and enables access to psychological forces that are beyond the usual personal. This can open up paths to a healing integration of the traumatic experience into one’s own life story that were previously not thought possible.
However, spirituality can also serve as a refuge for traumatized people in order to escape a life of suffering and to circumvent or avoid traumatic wounds and unfinished developmental tasks through ‘spiritual bypassing’.
This workshop attempts to explore the fine line between these possibilities, both practically and theoretically. Methods from theater and hypnotherapy applicable to trauma work make it possible to address these questions with respectful empathy and make them usable in such a way that clients can be effectively supported in developing their own path and activating their “dormant” knowledge about how they can answer the questions of transcending their ego experience into larger contexts for themselves.
We will also explore the question of how drama therapists can consider and use their own attitude towards spiritual meaning in their therapeutic work to create space for development and healing.

Workshop 4 (D)
The blind spot in psychotherapy: racism and its impact in psychotherapeutic practice
Lucía Muriel

When we encounter clients with a migration or refugee biography in our practice, they often bring traumatic experiences of exclusion, discrimination and fear with them. So far, there are hardly any reliable strategies for how we deal with these issues in therapy and what images of foreignness and alienation they confront us with. As far as racism is concerned, therapy today is still a mirror of social reality: it is misjudged, denied, covered up with shame. Little is really known about racism, but it is everywhere. We grow up with it, build our value system, our beliefs and value orientations on it. We organize and shape interpersonal relationships and relations on its basis.
This workshop serves as a general introduction to the relevant question: What do these blind spots do to us in our therapeutic work?

In my workshop I will deal with the continuities of certain (racist) images and with disturbances and effects in the therapeutic relationship. The five phases of working through our own Eurocentric and racist thought patterns will be addressed with the aim of understanding and strengthening our own responsibility in the system. We will look at the beliefs that often stand in our way of understanding a phenomenon that we are unaware of due to set privileges, but which for many people has a decisive effect on their mental health.
We will approach this often difficult and stressful topic in an atmosphere of mutual appreciation of our commonalities and peculiarities. We will be guided by the latest concepts, practical exercises and reflection sessions in small groups.

Workshop 5 (D)
Where is the emergency exit?
A practical workshop on theater therapy methods and the application of polyvagal theory for people with trauma-related disorders
Gabriele Pekusa

Traumatized people have had the formative experience that suddenly the ‘bottom falls out’ and they find themselves in a pit from which there seems to be no way out. Nothing seems possible any more, because the body and mind are blocked in their access to their resources. Instinctive impulses take over and the only option is to freeze or resort to avoidance strategies.
How can we get out of this distress?
Against the background of the theory of the polyvagal nervous system, possible ways out of this ‘pitfall’ are explored in practice.
We specifically activate body knowledge as the ‘royal road’ to resilience, because the body is the anchor in the here and now, versus drifting into the past. It is also the repository of all unconscious memories and the healing intelligence inherent in every human being.
In the next step, we develop characters from the body’s sensations and use them to find roles and theatrical play. Under the protection of this aesthetic distancing, which is offered by specifically applied theater-therapeutic methods, we deal with ways of safely approaching and gradually overcoming the horrors experienced and their consequences.
A further focus of this workshop is the personal handling of the reactions of flight/fight and numbness in the therapeutic relationship and the resulting therapeutic attitude.

Workshop 6 (D)
Crisis and paradigm shift – exploring the threshold
Heike Pourian

We humans are in a crisis. In many parallel crises. In an all-round crisis. This is difficult to deny. Everything is in upheaval. We realize that things can’t go on like this. Fundamental change is needed. But how – without completely crumbling?
In this workshop, we turn our attention to the transition, the threshold, the “space between the stories” (Charles Eisenstein). We combine the larger social dimension with our own personal experience. We ‘zoom’ back and forth between the micro and macro levels and explore:
Self and world – how are they interdependent?
What is it like to live in these times of crisis?
What is frightening and what is encouraging?
What is it like to let go of a system that I realize is largely hostile to life, but still offers me support, security and structure?
Where do I feel disoriented, where do I feel determined, where lonely and where in the best of company?
How can I serve the transformation that wants to happen with great urgency, well nourished and not strained?
What gives us – very fundamentally and physically – security?

Our exploration happens somatically and begins by feeling the rich contact with the ground. Then we locate ourselves in the space, move around the threshold, linger, witness our nervous systems, reflect on what we have experienced and relate our personal impressions to our knowledge of structural violence and collective/transgenerational trauma.
A basis for our speaking and listening is the Loop of Common Sense according to Daniel Auf der Mauer, a tool for trauma-informed conflict transformation.

Workshop 7 (E)
Healing the wounds of history
Drama therapy in building peace and the transformation of historical trauma
Armand Volkas

Based on personal experiences and narratives, participants can recognize and deconstruct traditional, historical and collective traumas as they are expressed in individuals, families, groups and societies. Using drama therapy, psychodrama, sociodrama, playback theater and creative ritual processes, participants will develop new tools to integrate into their practice.
The ‘Healing the Wounds of History’ model was developed by Armand Volkas, a psychotherapist and drama therapist from Berkeley, California. Volkas is the son of Auschwitz survivors and resistance fighters. His personal confrontation with this legacy prompted him to address the questions that arose from it: Issues of identity, victimization and perpetration, meaning and mourning.
With practical exercises combined with didactic explanations of the model, Armand Volkas will guide participants through an embodied exploration of questions: How do cultures emotionally integrate a legacy of perpetration or victimization? How can we prevent generational anger, guilt and shame from haunting a people across generations? The experiential part of the workshop will focus on the application of Healing the Wounds of History as a tool for working with individuals and groups and for social impact.
The didactic part of the workshop will provide a theoretical basis for the application of Healing the Wounds of History in processing personal and collective trauma in different cultural and clinical contexts. Drama therapy can bridge personal and collective experiences, help people process complex emotions, heal deep wounds and put the ghosts of history to rest.

Workshop 8 (E)
Playing with the expectation of doom in the ongoing tension of the unfolding unknown
Sensory-focused developmental transformations for survivors of persistent territorial aggression in childhood
Marc Willemsen

Much has been said about the healing effects of play. Nachmanovitch, for example, states:
“To play is to free ourselves from arbitrary constraints and to expand our scope of action. Our play fosters a richness of response and flexible adaptability. This is the evolutionary value of play – play makes us flexible”. Play gives us the opportunity to be moved by the lived stories we carry within us, to rewrite or transform them, to incorporate and (further) integrate them or to let them go.
But what if we have experienced persistent territorial aggression in childhood, and if the territory of our personal property, our body, our mind, our private escape, our personal space, our psychic space or our agency space has been violated? Without protection, we are prevented from developing an awareness of subtle sensory information and from associating (intense) bodily sensations with safety, security and self-regulation or self-control. Later in life, this often leads to depression, diminished self-esteem, self-destructive behavior and relationships characterized by mistrust, alienation, attachment breakdown and outbursts. We can suffer from chronic anxiety and unconsciously assume that harm awaits us in the perpetual tension of life and its unfolding unknown.
In this workshop, participants will be invited to experience the possibilities of sensory-focused, trauma-centered Developmental Transformations – an improvisational approach based on the concept of playspace from the work of David Read Johnson and consistent with principles of trauma-centered psychotherapy. We will explore the value of sensitively constructing a playspace and then boldly move to the edges of the playspace to interact in the blurred boundary of the playable and unplayable. The goal is to collectively, through playful interaction, gain insight into the healing powers of this type of play for survivors of childhood persistent territorial aggression.

Thursday evening

Online lecture (D)
Collective trauma in climate change: Who or what needs to change?
Steffi Bednarek

Why is it that we so rarely talk in therapy sessions about how the colossal changes in the climate that we are facing are affecting our psyche and how our psyche in turn is affecting the world?
Does psychotherapy automatically contribute to a better world or are there aspects of our theories and practice that are too adapted to a sick social system? Does psychotherapy have something to contribute on a socio-political level or should we during a time of global crisis continue to limit ourselves to the individual well-being of people ?
This seminar investigates the role of psychotherapy in a time when the familiar is no longer sufficient to find answers to the big questions of our time.
Among the topics we will explore are:
– Sleepwalking in the Anthropocene: who is responsible for waking up – client or therapist?
– Climate Anxiety, Dissociation and Collective Trauma: Clinical Diagnosis or Adaptation to a Sick World?
– Common coping strategies
– Clinical discussion and case reviews
– The role of therapy beyond individual therapy

An essential prerequisite for participation is an openness to shed light on one’s own feelings (or dissociation) about climate change.


Lecture (E)
The Healing Power of Playfulness and Imagination: A Novel Approach to the Treatment of Trauma
Prof. Dr. Mooli Lahad

Collective Intervention (E)
Historical Trauma: Whose Story Are You Carrying?
Armand Volkas

Saturday evening

Movie + discussion
“Decide for yourself!”
Documentary (Director: Till Vormstein)

about an intercultural prevention program to promote sexual self-determination that Hendrik Fritzsche (graduate of the ITT further education program ‘Berlin VI’) and Camil El Khoury from the State Coordination Office for Queer Refugees developed together

Hendrik Fritzsche and Andreas Seyfarth (both graduates of the ITT advanced training course ‘Berlin VI’) completed their field of practice as part of this project: A drama therapy project in which refugees and non-refugees work together on the topic of ‘sexual self-determination’. The performance was an artistic intervention during the exhibition “Speechlessness – The Loud Silence” at the Dresden State Art Collections. The participants developed a performance in the exhibition rooms that related to their own experiences. This made it possible to experience the exhibition as a process for overcoming speechlessness.
In the presence of and with an introduction by Hendrik Fritzsche and possibly Till Vormstein and Andreas Seyfarth, who will also be available for questions and a discussion after the film.

Resonance lab

A wandering resonance lab with graphics, text and performance elements will accompany the entire conference program. 3 people will move through the academy and spontaneously create a collage of images, words, movements, colors, smells, impulses for conversation, … These will concentrate in different, sometimes unusual places, only to evaporate again and reassemble. The participants are cordially invited to give intermedial impulses themselves and to help shape the resonance lab at any time.

Please note:
Some workshops are held in English, some in German, they are marked accordingly (E) / (D), but there are participants in each workshop who can provide a little translation support if necessary (for understanding and so that everyone who wants to can express themselves in German).