Todd Kulczyk: Bringing Antiochian Drama Therapy to Iceland
When Todd Kulczyk started studying drama therapy at AUS in 2013, he already had a master’s degree in Directing for Theatre and Film and a background in teaching college classes at California State University, Fullerton. However, seeking a career shift, Kulczyk came to Seattle to study Drama Therapy, a unique career path that blends traditional theater class techniques with therapeutic goals, such as building therapy clients’ social confidence through engaged, dynamic self-expression in a safe, therapeutic space.
After graduating from AUS with his MA in Couple and Family Therapy with the Drama Therapy specialization in 2016, Kulczyk became licensed as an LMFTA in Washington State. However, rather than continue to live and practice in the Pacific Northwest, Kulczyk—living a storybook romance in real life—moved to Iceland to create a life together with his Icelandic husband.
Moving to a new country hasn’t slowed Kulczyk’s career. He currently works as a psychotherapist and drama therapist with individuals, couples, and families through multiple organizations in Iceland, including Samökin 78 (an LGBTQIA+ organization), Hallgrímskirkja (a Lutheran church), and his private practice, Therapy Cooperative. A natural leader, Kulczyk was nominated to join the Association of Family Therapists in Iceland board in September, and now he’s on their committee to create educational standards for family therapy licensure in Iceland. He is also on the steering committee for the Nordic Art Therapies Conference for 2018.
Kulczyk was also invited by the University of Iceland to lead a two-day workshop on creative interventions with couples and families in November 2017. He also recently led Distant Voices, a project that uses “an interactive narrative to visually recount stories of immigrants and asylum seekers allowing insight into different realities and experiences,” which was performed by the Icelandic community.
On doing the work that led to Distant Voices, Kulczyk reports “it has been difficult working with the broken system that is in place for asylum seekers. It is much more complicated than my Seattle-based sensibilities understood or could comprehend.” He adds, “Asylum seekers who identify in the gender and sexual diversities community come to Iceland because of the global understanding that Iceland is a safe space.”
Explaining that while Iceland is currently ranked as #16 with a score of 47.22% by ILGA-Europe – the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, authors of the European Rainbow Map, it still “has a long way to go as far as legislation.” Kulczyk further explains, “Upon arrival, asylum seekers are faced with a series of interviews that offer possible re-traumatization and then are housed with other asylum seekers from around the world. What is the [new] roommate’s understanding of LGBT+ identity? No one knows. In most cases, LGBT+ asylum seekers are housed with someone who will oppress or abuse them.”
As both a psychotherapist and a drama therapist, Kulczyk took action. In his words, “Holding these stories inspired the Distant Voices project. This was an opportunity for the Icelandic community to hold these stories. Working together, a script was created by the asylum seekers as well as immigrants and performed by the Icelandic community.”
In short, Kulczyk is using his Antiochian education in a very active, alive way by bringing Seattle-style drama therapy and psychotherapy to his new home of Iceland.