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The Therapeutic Spiral Model™

TSM™ Theory

The societal, cultural and political events in South Africa's history have caused extreme trauma for individuals living in this country. With the ever-increasing threat of HIV/AIDS, the spread of violent crime, sexual abuse and domestic violence, the need for effective therapy for traumatized people is rapidly growing.

Professionals are challenged to find rapid, safe, inexpensive and effective methods for treating the survivors of psychological trauma. Until now, such methods have been largely unavailable.

A New Therapy: The Therapeutic Spiral Model™

The Therapeutic Spiral Model (TSM™) was initially developed as a method of addressing deep issues of trauma, notably post-traumatic stress disorder related to sexual abuse and domestic violence. Since the inception of the first training group in 1992 in the USA, countless people have been helped worldwide through this model which combines aspects of object relations theory, self-psychology, and transpersonal psychology, as well as through the use of archetypal constructs, along with the "action methodology" of psychodrama, art, and often music and/or movement therapies.

The basic premise of this work is that survivors of trauma need to be more adequately resourced and provided with a set of prescribed roles that can be internalized for greater self-awareness and empowerment. It is only when this is accomplished that they can then fully explore, understand, and let go of those traumatic events that hold victims captive long after the events have taken place.

What makes the Therapeutic Spiral Model™ unique?

The Therapeutic Spiral Model™ offers:

  • a dynamic reconstruction of stored mental images through psychodrama
  • a safe therapeutic structure
  • techniques for use with individuals or groups
  • more rapid progress than traditional talk therapy
  • immediate, hands-on tools
  • a flexible, culturally specific model
  • a self-renewing process, whereby professionals train each other
  • evidence-based research of effectiveness
  • a team approach to provide safety for core healing

Who would benefit from the Therapeutic Spiral Model™?

The Therapeutic Spiral Model™ treats post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from:

  • physical/emotional abuse
  • addictions
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • rape and sexual assault
  • ethnic conflict
  • political torture
  • witnessing violence

How does the Therapeutic Spiral Model™ work?

A typical group session employs props, art and experiential methods so participants can explore their traumatic experiences in a clinical structure that emphasizes safety and containment. Aided by the direction of an action trauma team, trauma survivors learn how to recognize and use their own personal, interpersonal and transpersonal [spiritual] strengths and expand their ability to draw upon specific roles such as the Containing Double, the Manager of Defenses, the Observing Ego and the Body Double that support conscious functioning.

Therapeutic Spiral International conducts training, education, and direct services in the global community. Most TSI trainers and team leaders are board-certified psychodramatists by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy or by their own national certifying body. All team members are accredited in the Therapeutic Spiral Model™ or are completing supervised practice as a team member.

Many techniques can be easily adapted to individual sessions and for clinicians using experiential and talk modalities. Our new program, Action Against Trauma, now brings the safety of the clinical structures of TSM into the community by using the humanities to build a bridge to educators, emergency workers, and volunteers in many fields. Our AAT motto is "Out of the office and into the streets!"

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Our Trainers

Dr. Kate Hudgins, founder of the Therapeutic Spiral Model™, oversees the training throughout the Global Community.

The local team is under the ongoing joint supervision of Mario Cossa and Vivyan Alers together with other high profile international TSM™ guest trainers. Mario Cossa is Primary Trainer for the South African Trainees in the Therapeutic Spiral Model™.  Vivyan Alers is the local coordinator.

A team entirely composed of South African members was made fully operational by 2003. This team can offer personal growth workshops in a variety of settings.

It is planned that by the end of 2004, a South African training team will be further accredited by Therapeutic Spiral International.    Vivyan Alers is already accredited as the first South African  Trained Auxiliary Ego, the first step of the accreditation ladder.

Trained members of the Action Trauma Team.

Trainees that have assisted in the past as TSM™ Action Trauma Team members:

  • Lindiwe Mkhondo, SA
  • Romy Ancer, SA
  • Jacinda de Freitas, SA
  • Vivyan Alers, SA

Trainees forming the South African Action Trauma Team that operates from the offices of Acting Thru Ukubuyiselwa, Johannesburg

  • Vivyan Alers
  • Jacinda de Freitas
  • Rachel Leta
  • Tabia Mampane
  • Pearl Nodikane

Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., T.E.P. Kate Hudgins developed the Therapeutic Spiral Model™ as an action method as an advancement of Jacob L. Moreno’s theories and application of psychodrama, specifically to treat trauma survivors. Her dedication, experience and training enabled her to develop this model to cover many eventualities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders [PTSD] namely culture, language, individual-group-community, with emotional containment and safety within the group.
During 1999 she formed the Therapeutic Spiral International Charity[TSI] in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.  Through this organization she presents Advanced Clinical Training Programs with Trauma and Addictions Track Programs. She had also developed the TSI Accreditation Program, training modules and residential workshops on the safe and effective use of clinically modified psychodrama to treat trauma and build Action Trauma Teams in the USA and international communities.  She also presents at conferences and academic seminars.
Kate has published extensively making a global impact on the treatment of trauma survivors. Her latest publications include:
Hudgins, M.K.  (2002).  Experiential Treatment of PTSD:  The Therapeutic Spiral  Model™.  New York:  Springer Publishing
Kellerman and M.K. Hudgins, (Eds)., Psychodrama with Trauma Survivors:  Acting Out Your Pain.  London:  Jessica Kingsley Publishers


Mario Cossa, MA, RDT/MT, TEP. Mario Cossa is an accredited Trainer (and all other team roles) for Therapeutic Spiral International [TSI]. His special field of expertise is utilizing the Therapeutic Spiral Model™ [TSM™] with adolescent groups regardless of their history. Mario was the creator/founder and, for 14 years, director of ACTINGOUT, a program for youth in Southwestern New Hampshire, USA, that combined expressive therapies with theatre training and issue-oriented presentations. He is also the creator of Drago-Drama, a psychodramatic exploration of personal "dragons" and the "jewels of great worth" that they guard.


Enid MacNeill [M.A. Clinical Psychology] Enid MacNeill specializes in working with adolescents. She is developing a new experiential program in Sheffield, UK, based on the Therapeutic Spiral Model™, where she works in a psychiatric hospital with troubled and at risk children and teens. She has been part of the Therapeutic Spiral accreditation process since 1998, and has been part of several TSM™ Action Trauma Teams as part of the core development group in the UK. She was part of the original team that came to South Africa in 2001.


Chip Chimera [CQSW, MSc Family Therapy] Chip Chimera is a family therapist working with individuals, families and groups. She has also extensive experience as an Expert Witness in proceedings under The Children Act, 1989.  She has been part of the Therapeutic Spiral accreditation process since 1998, and has been part of several TSM™ Action Trauma Teams as part of the core development group in the UK. Chip is one of the lead practitioners in developing TSM™ with the families at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture an NGO based in London.  She was part of the original team that came to South Africa in 2001. She is an Honorary Teaching Fellow of Birkbeck College, Chair of Year II at the Institute of Family Therapy for the Post graduate diploma in Systemic Practice. She is also an independent psychotherapist for assessment of parenting and child welfare for Family Proceedings Court.


Vivyan Alers [B.A. Social Work, Nat.Dip. Occupational Therapy] Vivyan Alers has been involved with the Therapeutic Spiral Model™ since 2000, and is the local organizer and initiator of developing the Therapeutic Spiral community work in South Africa. She has been instrumental in forging partnerships that share the vision for implementation of a TSM™ community model, which will provide training and certification for professionals and non-professional workers offering self-awareness and empowerment programs. This will begin with Ivory Park and will spread to various trauma clinics and counseling agencies. She is director of Acting Thru Ukubuyiselwa, a nonprofit organization she has developed to treat children, adolescent and adults from disadvantaged areas in South Africa, who are trauma survivors.



The Therapeutic Spiral Model™
Developmental Repair

is the difference between despair and healing

Article by Kate Hudgins, Ph.D., TEP can be downloaded here.


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