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Psychology and self-assessment was the topic of our sixth Guest Thursdayof the summer series. Our special guest was Olga Tapiola - psychologist, a specialist in group therapy called ”psychodrama.”
Psychodrama is a school of psychology which was brought in by Jacob L. Moreno in the XXth century. It is an acting method, often used as  psychotherapy, in which clients use spontaneous dramatization, role playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their own lives.


Olga is a “cat who has lived three lives,” as the speaker introduced herself. She is originally from Ukraine, and has had various professions and specializations. She studied International Relations and Foreign Policy as her mother wanted. Soon after finishing her studies she realized that she wanted something else. Olga moved to London to study economy at the London School of Economics, this time she took in consideration what her father always wanted her to become.

Both of these studies were very challenging and useful, but she wasn’t sure it was her thing. She worked for the government, for many European institutions, but she always felt like she is not living her life. She came to Moldova and started working here, at the beginning she wanted to do mediation, as she was very interested in conflict resolution, but there was no organization where she could work, so she started psychodrama. Thats where she finally fell in love with what she was doing.

Olga is now in her third year of studying psychodrama at the Institute of Gestalt in Chisinau, where as she says, psychologists have a different approach. Unlike psychoanalysts who are more rigid towards their patients, Gestalt psychologists interact with their patients, smile, and try to figure out together what the problems may be. In Chisinau, Olga is also running psychodrama groups for people who are interested in resolving problems in their lives and besides that, individual therapy.

This year, Olga is launching a scholarship for Moldovan students who want to study psychodrama at the Institute of Gestalt Psychodrama in Chisinau. To better explain the psychodrama method, Olga invited ten volunteers to demonstrate how a typical session runs.

“When you participate in a therapy group, you can see that there are people with different stories and different experiences, with different aspirations. Some people know what they want, some people don’t know what they want. But all of them have something in common, they all want to be happy.”

“There are many people who are unhappy,” Olga says, and even if you have a religion, or different psychologist who tells you to do certain things in order to be happy, the truth is that there is no recipe for happiness. And all the answers are in us, but also all the barriers are in us.

The participants were very open to discussion and to interact, one of them said that: “If you want to be happy, you need to do something for that to happen, not just sit and wait.”


Olga shared some tips that seem basic, yet are universal:

  • Be open to new things and new opportunities

  • Learn how to say NO, “it can be very uncomfortable, but if you have a voice inside you saying ‘this is not what I want,’ then you should follow it.”

  • Start to figure out what you want.

  • Give yourself some self-kindness.

  • Take it slow, slow down and take in the world around you.

During the session participants asked some complex questions, one was: “how we can be happy among unhappy people?”

Olga’s answer was: “It's your responsibility, the life choices that you make everyday, but you cannot be happy all the time, full time. You just have to decide, for example, if you provide a service to someone you have to do it differently, in a better way. Its up to you and it's your own responsibility.”

Olga urged the participants to search for their individual answers inside themselves: “whatever question you have, the answer will only be good for you. There are no recipes beyond: smile, take time, wake up early, but again you need to figure out what works best for you, and what makes you happy.”

In conclusion, Olga stated that there is no universal “how to be happy” recipe. It’s a very individual process, which has personalized solutions. Some people can figure it out by themselves, other people need help, such as individual or group therapy.

“Take small steps, change requires time,” Olga said.


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