Psychodrama is a method of interrelationship that incorporates sociometry, sociodrama, role training, role theory, group therapy, group psychotherapy and the psychodrama process. Since psychodrama is about our relationships with one or more people; family, friends, acquaintances or colleagues, and with ourselves, or, the relationship between groups, it can be thought of as systemic and therefore applies across every discipline and every area of life.
The various methods and techniques of the psychodrama method are used in business, in staff training, conflict resolution, counselling and psychology, psychiatry, social work, youth work, medicine, in the community, the home, in the education system including the classroom, in supervision, skills training, trauma and disaster.
At the heart of psychodrama is action in the here and now. We are born into a group and as group people we relate to others and the world all the time. We are much more acted upon than act. This is something to consider. Making choices about this is the subject of sociometry; the science of human relations. The more we act, the more empowered we are. The more we make choices and be response-able for those choices, the more empowered we are.
Sociometry: The New Philosophy of Human Interrelations (1934)
Moreno named Sociometry as the new philosophy of human interrelations that gave us "a methodology and guide for determination of the central structure of society through the evocation of the spontaneity of the human subject-agents. These factors once located and diagrammed supply us with the basis upon which the planning of all the many facets and activities of society may be undertaken-from juvenile and adult education to super governments and world states." Sociometry therefore, is at once anthropological and sociological, and applicable.
Sociometry is the foundation of the psychodrama method. It is often defined as the measurement of human relationships incorporating the theory and philosophy of psychodrama and includes tele, which is the feeling of attraction or repulsion that emanates from and flows between most people, objects and animals on a minute-to-minute and day-to-day basis. Toward the remainder, according to Moreno, humans feel indifferent. The terms positive, negative and neutral are used today to describe our tele relationships. They are neither good or bad or weak or strong.
Sociometry: The New Science
Writing in 1937, Moreno made the point that sociometry was a relatively new science having developed since World War 1, with "an aim to determine objectively the basic structures of human societies."
Sociometry in action may involve sociometric activities that are designed basically to connect people to themselves and each other, to assist group members to being in the here and now and to working together on a particular theme, purpose or topic. As people warm up to one another, tele usually increases and the group becomes bonded. Sometimes this can take a few minutes or an entire session or sessions, depending on the people, group, time, day, circumstance and the leaders. Formal sociometry consists of making charts and diagrams of people’s relationships and can be used in therapy, training and in business. Facebook is a good example of a sociometric development. In therapy the psychodrama practitioner can use sociometry when planning a session, following a process and sometimes both practitioner and the client create this together.
Psychodramatists may be found in any field of work, in any place or time. For example, psychodramatists may be oceanographers, doctors, nurses, child care workers, Mothers or Fathers, community activists, dentists - the list goes on. Psychodramatist may apply their skills and knowledge in their work or their personal lives. For the work life, people are trained in the relevant techniques, art and skills for their job. In the therapy, psychodramatists use the theory of roles as their framework, albeit interspersed with any other training, ability and knowledge they may have. Supervision enables the person to hone their skills in their work speciality. We appreciate that in various countries and in different cultures the training and practice of psychodrama may differ greatly, depending on the society, culture, times and the ability to be spontaneous and creative.
Psychodrama is always the drama of the person; sociodrama is always the drama of the socius. A branch of sociodrama called axiodrama is about human values, ethics and morals.
Sociodrama focuses on inter-group relationships and the group is the protagonist. As such, it is used in work situations, looking at one group in relation to another, one sub-group to another, community groups, in education, looking at issues, stories and happenings as a subject, rather than one person’s personal issue.
Role training is a very flexible method of learning new roles and skills for more effective functioning in personal or work situations. Skilled practitioners are employed in or consult to a range of services within the community. For example, community groups, emergency services, police, fire brigade, ambulance and the military. It is also used with war veterans. Teachers can use it in the classroom, assisting young and older children, adolescents and adults in a variety of social situations and in study habits. Role Training assists couples and families to understand what it is like to be in the shoes of the other, and maybe, for the first time, appreciate the effect that they are having on each other. Rather than focussing on you, or me, or on who is right or wrong, weak or strong, we look at that third entity, which always exists, our relationship.
Role Theory implies that we are always expressing ourselves through our roles – we are always in a role and that role can change, sometimes in seconds. There are three sorts of roles: the social roles - Mother, Father, peer and colleague; the psychodramatic roles such as warm companion, enjoyer of life and creative adventurer; and the somatic roles such as empathic feeler, deep thinker and contented sleeper. The focus in role theory is on interrelationship; how we are at any moment or time in relation to the environment and those around us. Whilst this generally involves people, it also involves animals and objects, anything in the environment in which we are in relationship. Role Theory says we are always connected to something and as such the notion of the atom is significant in psychodrama. Each one of us is at the centre of our world (our social and cultural atom) yet always in relation to a host of others (also in their social and cultural atom). We are always acting and being acted upon, from the minute we get out of bed and return. We affect the other and the other affects us.
This is a sketch of the Psychodrama Method.