Last year in Portugal

The Portuguese Congress of Psychodrama 1998

From April 1 – 4, 1998 The Portuguese Association of Psychodrama had its 5th biannual conference take place in two cities. The old university town Coimbra and the beach-resort ‘La Figueira da Foz’. To experience springtime in Portugal in combination with meeting the country’s psychodramatists was a tempting project. However, when there, it was raining most of the time. Nonetheless I experienced the conference as one of the brightest, best organised and most cheerful psychodrama mettings.

The hospitality of our Portuguese colleagues made the foreign participants – e.g. the presenters A. Ancelin-Schutzenberger (France), J. Burmeister (Switzerland), G. Leutz (Germany) G. and J. Rojas-Bermudez (Spain) – very comfortable.

While sightseeing at the seaport-city Porto with Antonio Roma-Torres as excellent guide remains an unforgettable experience, the visit to the Hospital de S: Joćo (where Antonio is head of the psychiatric inpatient unit) still impresses me. This general hospital with 1000 beds, 30 of which belong to the psychiatric ward throws a special light on the success of the dedicated Portuguese psychodramatists. The weekly staff meeting for which I had been scheduled to deliver a lecture on psychodrama, was attended by 50 staff members, doctors, nurses, psychologists, professors. They followed its contents with interest, and I was surprised by the space given to psychodrama on a busy week day’s morning. Yet, when visiting the small, dark, barren room with a circle of approximately a dozen of chairs, I was even more surprised to hear that eight patient groups for psychodrama working there are fully integrated in the hospitals’ therapy program. Among them special groups for addicts, Hiv-patients, psychotics and children.

At Coimbra the conference was opened by an impressive psychodrama session in a theatre open to the public. Th audience representative of the city’s entire population participated as auxilary-egoes or followed the scenes with interest and emotional resonance. Next to the information on psychodrama given by this session to the public, it was a great warm-up for the conference daus at Coimbra, where Cristina Oliveira Villares, in addition to her scientific contributions, proved to be an excellent organizer and guide in her historical city.

From there the conference moved to the seashore of La Figueira da Foz. In both places interesting lectures and workshops were offered.

At the end of the conference the switch from the presidency of doctor Teixeira de Souza (Porto) to professor Pio Abreu (Coimbra) took place. The festive meal and dance were other highlights.

While the participants could relate all kinds of anecdotes ‘from the ridiculous to the sublime’ the essence on the 5th conference of the Portuguese Psychodrama Association can be summarised as a ‘highlight of the 1998 events in the world-wide psychodrama network’.

Grete A. Leutz