Jessica Williams Ciemnyjewski

When I was growing up, my sisters and I formed a theatre troupe called The Bare Necessities and we spent many creative hours devising and producing plays which we performed to family and friends. When I was nine I decided that I wanted to be an actress. Ten years later I was leaving home for London to start a three year acting diploma at East 15 Acting School.  Following this I worked for a number of years as a professional actress in theatre, radio and film.  I especially loved my work in theatre and in 1991 together with a colleague of mine, I founded the theatre company The Theatre of Reflection, of which I am the artistic director. A year prior to this I became increasingly interested in the psychology of acting and performance and decided to take a break from the acting profession to train as a dramatherapist.  Later having begun to specialise in working in prisons and secure hospitals, I undertook further training in forensic psychotherapy and began to write about my theatre and therapeutic explorations.  During this intensive period of clinical practice I also started to paint and became fascinated by the process of painting and the unconscious images that surfaced on the page or canvas.

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'The Work, like life, is an imaginative quest.  The promise of the Stone is necessary to embolden us to embark on it.  But in truth the goal changes on the way as if the Way itself, transforming us as we go along, were the meaning of the quest.' (Patrick Harper)

The core of my work centres round the exploration of the human condition through creative processes, believing that in doing so we can access 'something greater (that) surges in the soul' and in the unconscious, thereby making valuable and at times essential sense of our inner and outer worlds. (I like Thomas Moore's way of understanding the soul as 'not a thing, but a quaility or a dimension of experiencing our life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance', 'Care of The Soul', 1992). My 'Work' and the process of my professional 'Way' has indeed been and continues to be a quest, and with each new movement from what 'I am' into what 'I become' a small transformation takes place as I step out into new areas of professional interest, development and work. However one thing remains a constant in the interchange of roles that I embody as an actress, dramatherapist, artist and writer that for me is a 'bare necessity', and that is the dialogue with the inner world and the encounter therein through the arts.  It is this encounter with the Imagination that sustains me as I have witnessed it sustaining others, and gives substance and grit and occasionally moments of Grace, to the unfolding story of my life within the greater Life of which I am a part.

Publications

*Awakening the Voice Inside-Dramatherapy and Theatre initiatives in Prison. Chapter in Shakespeare Comes to Broadmoor. Cox, M. (Ed). Jessica Kingsley Publishers 1992

*Process account of playing the lead role in Thursday's Child in The Play's the Thing-Exploring Text in Dramatherapy. Jenkyns, M. Routledge 1996

*A Meeting Place-Drama and Therapy. Journal of the British Association of Dramatherapists.  Winter, Vol 18, No.3, 1996/1997

*Addiction-Loving and Hating. Chapter in A Practical Guide to Forensic Psychotherapy. Van Velsen, C., and Welldon, E. Jesssica Kingsley Publishers 1997

*Living on the Edge. The Addictive and Intoxicating Nature of Working in a Women's Prison.  Free Associations Journal, Karnac 2000.

*Life within Hidden Worlds-Psychotherapy in Prisons (Ed). Karnac 2001.