The beginnings and development of the Moreno method in Switzerland


author: Roger Schaller.

The beginnings and development of the Moreno method in Switzerland

Moreno himself presented psychodrama at the International Group Psychotherapy Congress in Zurich in 1957 and visited Switzerland for the second time in 1973 as part of the Group Therapy Congress. However the origin of psychodrama in Switzerland is associated with Grete Anna Leutz who learned from him personally in the USA. Grete Leutz founded in Überlingen (Germany) the Moreno Institut Überlingen. Überlingen is on the border with Switzerland and so this institute was of great importance for the spread of psychodrama in German-speaking Switzerland. Soon, the Institute of Überlingen organised the first regular psychodrama group in Switzerland at Burghölzli, the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich, in 1971. Some of the candidates completed or finished their further training at Moreno’s Institute in Beacon, N.Y.. After their return, the psychodrama section of the Swiss Society for Group Psychotherapy and Group Dynamics (SGGG) was formed on the initiative of the psychiatrists and psychotherapists R. Binswanger and J. Scheidegger – both were teaching at the Moreno Institute in Uberlingen at that time – with the Friedemann student and founder of the Psychodrama Institute Liestal, J. P. Gonseth, as its director. In the wake of the dissolution of the SGGG, Binswanger and Scheidegger founded the “Psychodrama Switzerland Working Group” with E. Pfäfflin, who had been trained by Zerka Moreno in Beacon. Elisabeth Pfäfflin proposed theme-centered seminars and training groups herself from 1979-2007, inviting Ann Hale from the USA and Anthony Williams from Australia, among others, as guest speakers.

In 1991 the emeritus director of the C. G. Jung Institute, Dr. H. Barz and his wife E. Barz, founded the “Institute for Psychodrama based on Jungian Psychology” in Zurich. They maintained exchanges with the director of the Moreno Institute in Überlingen as guest lecturers of these institutes. H. Barz gave lectures on psychodrama at the Psychological Institute I of the University of Zurich; G. Leutz teached during several semesters at the Psychological Institute II under the direction of Prof. Dr. B. Boothe, a student and co-author of A. Heigl-Evers and graduate of the Uberlingen Moreno Institute.

In 1988 the Swiss Working Group for Psychodrama was founded , a group of psychodramatists who met four times a year for further training. As psychodrama was no longer represented by any association in Switzerland since the dissolution of the SGGG, the Swiss psychodramatists, through this working group, founded the association “Psychodrama Helvetia PDH” in 1993. The board includes representatives of the different training institutes as well as of the different professional fields in which psychodrama is applied.

PDH has about 100 members today. This includes about 20 members from French-speaking Switzerland.

Norbert Apter played an important role in introducing psychodrama in the French-speaking part of Switzerland at the end of the 1980s, through a large number of personal development workshops and continuing education seminars. Thanks to the encouragement of Anne Ancelin-Schützenberger and the participation of Marcia Karp, as the main trainer, the first complete training program was launched in 2000 (combining the theories of J. L. Moreno and Carl Rogers), organised by the ODeF Institute in Geneva. The diploma/certificate courses were initiated with the help of international trainers. The ODeF Institute has since trained several groups of professionals and organised numerous seminars and conferences; more and more professionals in the fields of training, coaching, human resources, etc. are now being trained in Action Methods.

Psychoanalytically oriented psychodrama is of great importance in French-speaking Switzerland. Since many years, corresponding training and continuing education courses are offered by the Association romande pour la psychothérapie analytique de groupe ARPAG and the Association of psychologists FARP.

In recent years, psychodrama with children and adolescents has also gained in importance in Switzerland. Together with our psychodrama colleagues from Austria and Germany, the PDH organized a three-day congress in Basel in September 2018 on psychodrama with children, adolescents and families. The congress was very well attended and today a training in child psychodrama is offered by the Institute IPSR.


Psychodrama Helvetia PDH 

Moreno Institut Überlingen

Institut für Psychodrama und Aktionsmethoden 

Child psychodrama

Institut ODeF                                                                                  o

Association Romande por la psychothérapie de groupe 


Author of this Text: Roger Schaller, president PDH
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