Meet the TSI Trainers

Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP

Dr. Kate HudginsAlthough people often call me an innovative and inspirational leader, I call myself a Blessed Journeyer because each step of my career has never been carefully planned. Rather, my career evolved spontaneously from living life while I sought and finally created a way to heal myself and others from the effects of childhood trauma. 

I have walked an amazing and unexpected journey from wounded soul to living life fully as a happily married woman who loves her work and her children, both biological and psychodramatic. I am blessed with a balance of deep relationships that support my own resilience and emergence with work that I love. I absolutely believe in the power of post-traumatic growth.

Today, I am a “helicopter trainer,” traveling around the world and teaching that spontaneity and creativity is the ongoing cure that supports a life of resilience, connection, and improvisation in the aftermath of trauma.

It wasn’t always this way.

When Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was first recognized as a specific mental health disorder in the 1980s, I was already struggling and searching for help for a multitude of my own long-term symptoms – flashbacks, body memories, and intense feelings – that no one seemed to understand.

Despite my newly earned Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I had found very little that had made a difference to help me live my day-to-day life with eagerness and joy. I had, however, found experiential methods of change in my post-graduate training in Psychodrama and Gestalt therapy. I knew there was something powerful in these methods, but I also felt cautious with their use as a clinical psychology.  However, having seen the research results on doubling from my APA award winning dissertation, I was hooked on the effectiveness of experiential psychotherapy theoretically and clinically. 

With a group of like-minded young clinicians who were also certified as psychodrama practitioners, I co-created the Therapeutic Spiral Model to help myself and the participants of our first training group. Now, 35 years later, they are leaders and workers in different fields of global health, and I am the director of training at Therapeutic Spiral International, where I lead the International Certification in Trauma Therapy. 

Today, Therapeutic Spiral International has certified hundreds of professionals around the world, and the advances in neurobiology now prove the truth of what we observed clinically and felt personally.  There is a need for safe and effective experiential psychotherapy for people suffering with PTSD and other stress-related mental health problems.

As a person who lives a life of post-traumatic growth, I have integrated the strengths that grew out of facing my past. Now I feel compelled to share the Therapeutic Spiral Model to help others along this journey called life. 

As a trainer, I am committed to share my deep clinical knowledge as the professional trauma expert that I am. I’m also deeply committed to helping people around the world learn the power of the Therapeutic Spiral Model to create a better quality of life in today’s world of trauma.  

My credentials?

I earned my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1986 and received a one-year internship in psychodrama and group psychotherapy through the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH) from 1980 to 1981. I am a board-certified Trainer, Educator and Practitioner in Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy and a certified Gestalt therapist.  My dissertation focused on psychodrama, and I received the American Psychological Association’s Graduate Student Research Award in 1986 for my work on the psychodramatic technique of doubling. Several of my students have told me that I am one of the best-trained clinicians in experiential methods of change they could find. 

As Zerka T. Moreno, co-developer of psychodrama and a longtime friend and mentor, once said to me, “Living as a psychodramatist with spontaneity and creativity is living the truth.” Taking the Therapeutic Spiral Model around the world through motivational speaking, academic teaching, private training, supervision, and personal consultations keeps me in touch with my roots at home, with the excitement of being part of a worldwide community coming together to find safe ways to help people in various stages of traumatic experiences.

I live in Charlottesville, Va., with my Australian-born husband and beautiful husky dog, Spirit. 

To view her curret Curriculum Vitae, please click here

Mario Cossa, RDT/MT, TEP, CAWT

I am proud to be listed beside my psychodramatic sister, Kate, and among the other outstanding trainers who are part of TSI. Everything I do as a psychodramatist is informed by the clinical awareness gained while training with TSI and with the many years of utilizing TSM in my work. I am indebted to Kate for the tremendous impact she had as my primary trainer for my TEP while I was exploring the ways in which TSM fit with the therapeutic work I was doing with adolescents in New Hampshire.

I believe passionately in the ability of the creative and performing arts and expressive therapies to heal, to expand consciousness, and to transform lives. I have worked with teens and those who serve them around the globe. Work with adolescents still holds a primary focus for me. From my beautiful home in the jungle in Bali, my latest endeavor, Motivational Arts Unlimited, is collaborating with Indonesian educators to bring the TSM perspective on action methods to educational programs throughout Indonesia.

How did I get here?

Like Kate, my career has been about seizing opportunities that presented themselves to me. I was fortunate to be raised in a loving family. The childhood traumatic experiences I had were modulated by many supportive adults. My adolescent years, however, were a struggle. As the smart, fat, funny-looking kid I received much praise from my teachers but felt little connection with my peers. This experience is likely what drew me to working with youth in the first place.

I began working with adolescents in a number of educational and theatre programs in the late 1960s, when I was in my early 20s. In the early 80s, I worked with the Children’s Performing Arts Center in Keene, NH, facilitating programs for teens, as well as doing educational programs in the schools, using theatre to explore various curricular areas.

In 1984, some parents asked me to develop a theatre program for teens about substance use and abuse. Working with a local therapist and a group of high school students, we created a show entitled: “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll.” I soon realized that the work we were doing was supporting our actors in addition to informing our audiences.

Shortly thereafter I was working as a case manager for an organization called Youth Services, Inc. (YSI), whose mission was to work with court-adjudicated youth. I also enrolled in the Antioch/New England Graduate School program in counseling psychology, with a focus on group and expressive arts therapies.

One morning, at a YSI staff meeting, our director asked, “Where is your passion?” He explained that the agency’s board wanted to develop programs for youth to prevent court involvement. He felt that out of our passions the best programs would emerge. “I have an idea,” I said, and the rest, as they say is history.

I created the ACTINGOUT Program, and while serving as its director for nearly 15 years, I became certified in psychodrama and in drama therapy. In July of 2003, I took my leave of ACTINGOUT to travel and train others around the world, and to write my book: Rebels with a Cause.

My credentials?

As a tap dancer from age four, I could easily relate to Oliva Newton-John’s joy at exclaiming (when asked in an interview to name a highlight of her career), “I danced with Gene Kelly.” As a psychodramatist I feel the same joy and pride to say, “I trained with Zerka Moreno.” This fact means more to me than my BS in Biology/Psychology (Phi Beta Kappa) from Manhattan College, or my Masters degrees in Secondary Education from Goddard College, and in Counseling Psych from Antioch/NE. I was blessed to have the opportunities to train in significant ways with Kate (as mentioned), Guy Taylor, and Jonathan Fox; as well as having more short-term experiences with many other leaders in our field.

I am proud of the two books I have published as well as chapters I have written for a number of others, and journal articles that I have penned along the way. In a forward to Rebels with a Cause, Zerka wrote:

“As a certified TEP in psychodrama…in the mold of J.L. Moreno, Mario has managed to bring together his philosophy, theory, and methods in a superb book. … It is a cornerstone in the field of psychotherapy as well as a book for anyone who is concerned with the welfare of our younger generation.”

Well, I never danced with Gene Kelly, but I am honored to have had Zerka as my mentor, teacher, friend, and psychodramatic mother.

Reach me and follow my work by your favorite electronic means:

cossa@att.net

www.dramario.net

FB: Motivational Arts Unlimited

Instagram: Balimario8

To view his current Curriculum Vitae, please click here.