Career Night at Bettye Myer Middle School
Creating New Windows for Women:
Bibliodrama at the Dallas County Jail
In the Dallas County Jail, Lew Sterrett, approximately 60 women inmates have chosen to participate in a program called Resolana, Volunteers of America-Texas. Resolana is a Spanish word for “warm wall”, a gathering place where people connect and share wisdom. In the spirit of providing opportunities to connect, gain personal insight, and collective wisdom, we have traveled to the “warm wall” to explore stories together. My colleagues, Kristin Nunn, LPC, and Lori Martin, LPC-S, and I have been volunteering with Resolana since September of 2015 offering once a month Bibliodrama workshops.
Through Bibliodrama we have traveled back in time to explore the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of Adam and Eve, Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Joseph, Abigail, Esther, Hannah, and Mary of Magdalene. Scenes have been set from the Garden of Eden, throughout the land of Israel, to Persia and back. Roles such as new mother, grief stricken widow, and esteemed queen have all appeared in the jail classroom. Voices of those who have been rejected, forgotten, separated from loved ones, or remembered and honored have all come from places deep within the hearts and lives of the women inmates.
This powerful modality was created by Dr. Peter Pitzele in 1984. He combined his knowledge of psychodrama and Jewish tradition to explore stories from the Bible. In that synergy, Bibliodrama was born. Paul Juarez, the director of First Refuge ministries in Denton, Texas described his experience with Bibliodrama as seeing a story “become 3-D.” The inmates have expressed similar impressions of Bibliodrama. Several women have reported to us that after a Bibliodrama they have gone back to read the story with new eyes. One female inmate said, “thank you for taking us out of jail for a couple of hours.” Rayne Johnson, LCSW, Resolana Program Director and Lesley Mohney, Resolana Program Specialist, gathered comparable feedback from some of the women: “Bibliodrama helped make scenes memorable,” “It brings the Bible to life in a fun, interactive way,” Bibliodrama “enabled me to live in the moment of the characters that I’ve read about all my life,” and “It gave me a fresh perspective and allowed me to personalize the teachings.”
Jonathan Moreno wrote about the work of his father J.L Moreno, the creator of psychodrama, in his book Impromptu Man (2014). J.L. Moreno influenced inmates and staff at Sing Sing Prison in the 1930’s. Moreno wondered, “How it would be possible to transform the promiscuous, unorganized prison system into a socialized community through a method of assignment of prisoners to prison groups.” He then began studying and grouping inmates based on their choices and interactions. Our groups today, including Bibliodrama, are a direct result of Moreno’s work in the prison and his creation of group psychotherapy. Programs such as Resolana which allow women inmates to make choices and find community within the jail system, have their roots in Moreno’s ingenuity.
In Peter Pitzele’s innovative book Scripture Windows: Toward a Practice of Bibliodrama (1998) he described “a window’s unique ability to give us at once our own reflection in its glass and also a view of the world beyond.” That is precisely what energizes and motivates us to continue creating experiences for the Resolana women. There is an amazing ability to see themselves with new understanding while simultaneously seeing beyond themselves into the joy, hope, and struggles of the men and women in these venerable stories. Bibliodrama has been, and continues to be, a Life giving experience for all involved.
Jodi Greanead is a LPC Intern / supervised by Tammy Terrell LPC-Supervisor in Denton and Lewisville, Texas. She volunteers at First Refuge Ministries in Denton, TX and Resolana, Volunteers of America-Texas at Lew Sterrett (Dallas County Jail) in Dallas, TX. Jodi has been a student of psychodrama with Katrena Hart at Bridging Harts Psychotherapy in Allen, TX since 2012 and a student of Dr. Daniela Simmons at Expressive Therapies Training Institute in Denton, TX since 2014. Jodi is currently seeking psychodrama certification. She is also pursuing ongoing supervision with Dr. Pitzele for further creation of Bibliodrama.
Terrell Counseling, Inc * 4222 N I-35 Frontage Road * Denton, TX 76207
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