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Director's Vitae

Leonard Manzella received his masters degree in social work from the University of Southern California, in 1989. Prior to attaining his degree he lived in Rome, Italy from 1968 through 1983 working in the international film industry. His film career took him to many countries around the world giving him a firm understanding of the cross-cultural issues that relate to violence. He is now a licensed clinical social worker practicing in San Luis Obispo, California.

From 1991 through 1994 Manzella directed a Psychodrama program for a Psychiatric Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California where he treated men women and children for a variety of clinical issues including: anger, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Between 1984 and 1990 he piloted an experimental program funded by the Vatican in Rome, Italy that introduced Psychodrama into therapeutic communities that treated people suffering from heroin addiction. Together with Dr. Lewis Yablonsky from Cal State University in Northridge, he taught recovering addicts how to use the Psychodrama model of treatment in their work with newly recovering addicts. A great deal of the work focused on violence, both to the self and to others.

In 1994 he moved to the central coast of California where he opened a private practice. Then in 1997 until 1999 he designed and directed a Psychodrama program for inmates at the San Luis Obispo County jail where he worked with men and women prisoners focusing on issues including anger, domestic violence and substance abuse. During that same time he designed and directed another Psychodrama program for the San Luis Obispo Juvenile Services Center where he treated juveniles for a number of psychological issues. Since 1999 he has facilitated “The Psychodrama Project” for the San Luis Obispo Probation Department where he facilitates groups for convicted child abusers sent by the courts. That same year Manzella created the AVERT project. The project was designed to combat violence in individuals and institutions. To date, Manzella has completed two training-documentaries featuring juvenile hall officers and school teachers being led through a series of carefully designed exercises to teach them the empathic expertise necessary to ensure their safety and the safety of their institutions.

Manzella has taught, trained or consulted for the San Diego County Probation Dept., Napa County Probation Dept., Sonoma County Probation Dept., Del Norte County Probation Dept., San Luis Obispo County Probation Dept, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Dept., La Valleta Prison In Turin, Italy, C.E.I.S. therapeutic Communities in Rome, Italy, Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming, Santa Barbara County Dept. of Social Services, Economic Opportunity Commission of San Luis Obispo County in California, Antioch University, Venice, California, University of California at San Diego, Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara County Schools, and CBS Television Network.


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