Group Leaders and their sociometric set
by Ann E. Hale, M.A.TEP
Sociometry question for the practitioner: March 17-30, 2006
Your co-leader in a therapy group is not trained in psychodrama or
sociometry . She asked you to join her practice because you have these
strengths. The group is going well. After several months you
realize she appears to you to have “favorites”. This impacts the
overall satisfaction you have in working together. Since you meet
monthly to discuss the group, what sociometric tools might you use to
illustrate this concern and open the discussion.
An answer suggested by Ann E. Hale, MA, TEP: March 30, 2006
Your training in sociometry has helped you to develop a “large
picture” view of groups, and to be sensitized to inclusion and
group building. Also, you have learned about each person having a
“sociometric set”, that certain number and quality of
relationships he/she can hold in their consciousness at any given point
in time. One way to operate in groups which are larger than that
number is to unconsciously drop certain people from your awareness.
Since this is primarily unconscious we can become more aware of it
happening and either exert some effort to stay more inclusive or
consciously decide to let who makes up the “number” vary from time to
time thereby including everyone overall. Discuss with your
colleague this topic and each of you speak about what might be your
individual “number”. Get an agreement that if either of you
becomes aware that someone in your client group may be “overlooked”
that you will either intervene to include that person, or signal your
co-leader in some agreed upon way.
Next, you can also suggest that you each do a hypothetical social atom
designed to bring out into the open actual feelings you each have about
the members of the client group. You use the diamond of
opposites, and choose a criterion. Example: If I were meeting these
people for the first time at a workshop on parenting, what would be the
strength of my pull to talk to this person during the coffee break, and
the strength of my pull not to talk to this person during the coffee
break. (On the diamond both pulls are plotted and the intersecting
point in the “phase space” is identified. You draw a line from that
intersecting point out to the margin and write the clients name.)
Once you and your co-leader have the completed diamonds before you,
compare your diamonds. Speak about whom each of you is more likely to
overlook based on this data. Having shared this information
between you increases the likelihood that you will continue to
strengthen your working relationship and that you each share the
responsibility for all the clients in your group.
Resources: Carlson-Sabelli, Linnea, Sabelli, Hector and Hale, Ann E.
(1994) “Sociometry and sociodynamics” in, P. Holmes, M. Karp and M.
Watson, Eds, Psychodrama Since Moreno: Innovations in Theory and Practice. London, Routledge. p 147-185..
Hale, Ann E. (1985) “Exploring your sociometric set”, in Conducting Clinical Sociometric Explorations Roanoke, VA, Royal. p.78-84.