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.
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:
FB: Motivational Arts Unlimited
To view his current Curriculum Vitae, please click here.