Zerka T. Moreno Award

Linda Ciotola is the 2008 recipient of the 
Zerka T. Moreno Award. 
Who is Zerka T. Moreno?

Zerka Toeman Moreno is often called “The Mother of Psychodrama”.  She is the widow of J. L. Moreno, M.D., and as his partner and collaborator developed group psychotherapy, psychodrama, and sociometry.  She has written and published extensively in the field, trained psychodramatists world-wide, and, at age 95, continues to write, train, and inspire from her home in Charlottsville, VA.  Linda is honored and proud to have received the award named for Zerka. Zerka has just published her memoirs , entitled, To Dream Again.

Author and Psychodramatist Adam Blatner, MD, TEP congratulates Linda on receiving the Zerka Moreno award

Author and Psychodramatist Adam Blatner, MD, TEP congratulates Linda on receiving the Zerka Moreno award

This award is given annually to an individual who is not a TEP or a Fellow of the Society for distinguished work in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy.  Selection was based on accomplishments in the following categories:

  1. publications
  2. professional presentations
  3. research
  4. professional activities leading to the increasing utilization and awareness of psychodrama
  5. ASGPP membership activities \


Here is the presentation speech: 
Remarks* of Cathy Nugent to the ASGPP:

Introducing Linda Ciotola, Winner of the
2008 Zerka T. Moreno Award
ASGPP Annual Conference
April 12, 2008

I am honored to present the Zerka T. Moreno Award to my friend and colleague, Linda Ciotola.  When I think of Zerka Moreno, two role descriptors that spring immediately to mind are “collaborator” and “innovator.”  These two words also aptly describe Linda.

Over the past several years, I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities to collaborate with Linda on the design and delivery of psychodrama personal growth and training workshops.  Linda is the kind of collaborator one dreams of working with – knowledgeable, conscientious, organized, and creative.  She brings tremendous resources and skills to the table, but, even more important, Linda she has a way of drawing out the best in her collaborators that truly maximizes the co-creative process.  She demonstrates tremendous openness and a genuine enthusiasm for the work by, in her words, taking on the roles of leader and learner at the same time.

As an innovator, Linda has been very productive.  She has developed a variety of psychodramatic action structures, such as the body dialogue, the “walk around the clock check-in,” and others.  All are informed by her expert knowledge of holistic health, body psychotherapy, and psychodrama, combined with her signature touches — exceptional creativity and a dash of the playful or whimsical.  Those who work and train with Linda are familiar with her use of stuffed animals and animal puppets, which she calls her “furry auxiliaries.”  More than simply giving her auxiliary objects a cute and clever name, Linda has developed a myriad of ways to use them in individual and group work, both as therapeutic and training tools.  Part of what makes Linda so innovative, I think, is her ability to tap into her joyful, spontaneous child role, and it is delightful to see the playfulness and enthusiasm Linda can access and implement in her work as a psychodramatist.

Linda has served as a workshop co-leader with Zerka on at least two occasions I know of, so I wrote to Zerka to ask her if she might have some words of congratulations for Linda.

Zerka wrote:
Linda Ciotola is a natural-born psychodramatist.  She discovered it as the mother to her own son, when she helped him to overcome a fear he had by accepting his reality and using it in surplus reality to overcome it together.  That was well before she knew there was such an approach to a child’s or adult’s inner world know as psychodrama, When she did find it – or it found her—she felt she had come home.  Linda well deserves this award.  It is a suitable recognition of her achievements in our field.  Good luck, Linda.

In closing, I would like to suggest that what makes Linda’s work as a psychodramatist so inspired and inspiring is that, at her best, she is able to move aside from her ego, and step into a sacred space she has created through her spiritual practice.  At such moments, Linda is lit from within, and all within her orbit benefit from her light.  That is a phenomenon to see, and, certainly, one to honor. 

I am delighted to present this year’s Zerka T. Moreno award winner, Linda Ciotola.


*Actual remarks delivered may have differed slightly from the prepared text

Linda Ciotola - Zercha

Linda with Zerka Moreno at Zerka’s

Upon Receipt of the Zerka Moreno Award

April, 2008



In 1975, I was in my mid-20’s, a wife, mother, amateur actress and director, finishing my graduate degree in education.  I was writing a final paper on my Philosophy of Education – I called it “Education as a Dramatic Process”.  I had focused my work on both theatre and philosophy, and, although I wouldn’t learn there was such a thing as psychodrama for another 17 years, I knew somehow that my passion to make the world a better place thru theatre, philosophy, creative arts, psychology, and education was my spiritual calling.

As I have followed that calling, I have simultaneously held the roles of both teacher and learner.  I want to express my gratitude to my teachers, trainers, students, trainees, colleagues, family and friends.

To Cathy Nugent who has encouraged me from the time I first discovered psychodrama and who is a dear and treasured colleague and collaborator

To my primary CP trainer, JoAnn Thacker, who trained me with brilliant perception, encouragement, and compassion.

To my secondary CP trainer and TSM trainer, Kate Hudgins, who challenged me to work with trauma survivors with courage and containment

To my primary TEP trainer, Joe Kenna, who is the heart of support and encouragement

To my secondary TEP trainer, Mario Cossa, who is my role model for training with clarity and creativity

To Adam Blatner who encouraged me to write and publish

To Connie Miller whose work in Souldrama has helped me grow both personally and professionally

To Kathy Amsden who blesses me with music and friendship and collaboration

To Karen Drucker, Karen Carnabucci, Steve Kopp and all the members of MAC and ASGPP past and present

To Cathy’s sister, Alma, whose unwaivering friendship has sustained me for two decades

And to my husband, Joe, my children, clients, protagonists, and trainees who have been my greatest teachers.

And to Zerka who never ceases to inspire me.  I am both honored and humbled to accept this award in gratitude to all who have taught me, inspired me, and sustained me.

Let us never lose sight of the dream of healing all of humankind.

Thank you and
 NAMASTE
Linda Ciotola

Linda Ciotola, Cathy Nugent

Cathy Nugent presenting Linda with the Zerka Moreno Award at the ASGPP Conference in San Antonio, Texas, 2008.