Strengthening the Sociometrist's Eye: training for Psychodrama Directors
by Ann E. Hale, M.A., TEP
You are preparing your trainees to become more adept at matching the
sociometric procedure or approach to specific situations. Talk
about three procedures which may easily be applied in one to one
counseling and what criteria you use to decide which works best
Developing a “sociometrist’s eye” is an important aspect of the
training of psychodramatists. Throughout their training choice points
present themselves: choice of director, choice of protagonist, choice
of auxiliary ego. Even the choice to study psychodrama. Being able to
name the specific criterion on which one is basing their choices helps
to develop the “eye” and strengthens the trainees sensitivity to
nuances related to choices of all kinds, the formation of group norms
effecting choice, and matching the procedure to the here and now
In exploring the sociometric criterion as a regular group activity for
trainees, the degree of relevance and the degree of threat or risk can
be explored using a simple 1-5 scale. When matching a particular
sociometric procedure to a situation the sociometrist explores with the
group or the individual the risk they are willing to take in a given
moment. The sociometrist also exercises his/her judgement assessing the
ego strength available and the capacity of persons to benefit from
examining (a) the choice he/she makes; and (2) choices others are
making for him/her. The trainee, who has become more used to
examining choices, may need to be prompted to remember the early days
in their training when they experienced anxiety , fear and resistance
to the whole issue of choice-making. This recall will help them
to recognize these states when introducing sociometric procedures to
clients in one-to-one practice.
Exploration of roles of high value 1
In instances when a client is discussing their involvement in a
particular family, work or social group, the therapist can have the
person identify a wished for role, and explore with them the underlying
dynamics in the group which impede or facilitate access to the role.
This procedure can allow for varying degrees of risk. The person is
encouraged to mentally role reverse and make statements about whether
they this person considers them for a role, and who else is a contender
for the role. For example, the person wishes in family gatherings
to have their opinion valued, to be asked to contribute to a discussion
of options. The therapist can ask, “Whose opinion matters most in
this point in time? What is it that they do to gain this attention?
What skills have they? Next, explore the value of the role and
their readiness for the role (relevance and risk). Help the
client to identify those persons who are more able to recognize their
capacity to be helpful and create an action scenario where they “drop
hints” begin to “act in the role of contributor”.
Conflict Warmup 2
This exercise is ideally suited to persons who have a dread of
conflict, or find themselves embroiled in one conflict after
another. The warmup is a pen and paper exercise which helps the
person manage their intensity and learn something important about their
style of conflict and the resources they have available.
Throughout there are ways to go into more depth or to manage the
problematic aspects and move to closure. This warmup asks the
person to be thinking of a particular group, family or team when
completing the exercise. There are several points when the person
can explore roles in action.
Psychological Social Atom 3
This is a pen and paper exercise designed to focus on intimacy based on
Rubin (1974) 4 The person fills in the blanks with names of persons
from their social atom:
(1) I feel I can confide in _____ about virtually anything.
(2) I would do almost anything for ____.
(3) If I could never be with ____ I would feel miserable.
(4) If I were lonely, my first thought would be to seek out ____.
(5) One of my primary concerns is the welfare of ____.
(6) I would forgive ____ for practically anything.
(7) I feel responsible for ____’s well being.
(8) I would greatly enjoy being confided in by ____.
(9) It would be hard for me to get along without ____.
A list of names is compiled from the answers and a social atom is
drawn, using nearness and distance to reflect the here and now
importance to their inner life. The therapist can also have the
person choose another point in time and do a comparison between there
and then and here and now. In instances when the person is
feeling particularly bereft and unconnected, the therapist might make
another list which allows for the person to identify relationships
which have importance yet less strongly intimate as the above list
1.Hale, Ann E. "Group Exploration of Act hunger for Roles of High Value" in Conducting Clinical Sociometric Explorations , Roanoke, VA, Royal Publishing, 1985, p. 153-154.
2. Hale, p. 100.
3. Hale, p. 23
4. Rubin, Vick. "Lovers and other strangers: the development of intimacy in encounter and relationships" American Scientist Vol. 62 (1974) p. 182-190.