Psychodrama practice group guidelines

Broad processes and principles for running psychodrama practice groups

The following have been developed to provide some guidance, but not too much guidance, for the running of successful practice groups.

From the guidelines given out earlier: The purpose is for all members to practice psychodrama directing without supervision (at the time) and to practice reflective writing in close proximity to a session. Over time, we envisage the writing taking on the quality of a professional report on an event in the session.  Sessions include warm-up, enactment and sharing. The aim of the group is to foster peer connections, collaborative learning, and to gain confidence in practicing the psychodrama method.

It’s all grist for the mill (the learning mill that is).

This means that whatever happens is good learning. If you were bold and adventurous that is something you may learn from. If you were hesitant and lacked confidence, that is also something you may learn from. If you went from high confidence to lowly worm status that is something you may learn from. If you were full of confidence and nothing much happened you may learn from that. If you were full of doubt and lacked creativity and a lot went well what do you make of that? The idea is to get to know how you function in a variety of settings, to take on the challenges of life as they present themselves to you in this group setting.

Practice, practice, practice.

The purpose of the groups is to practice, which, like any other learning process, means doing it good, bad and indifferent. It is great to fail at this stuff, including the running of the group. It is great to think you have failed when you haven’t or succeeded and when you haven’t. It is great to find a way to do things easy, without rush, and discover the value of that. It is great, also, to rush, be stressed, be in a fog and wonder how come no-one notices, cares or if they do what they do about it. Here is a link to a short piece of writing on leadership which should help you.

Kicking off, starting the group

So there is a leader to start the group off. Hopefully, they don’t know what they are doing or maybe they do or maybe they are experimenting. The leader does not have to be the director of the first drama but they may wish to be. The group leader’s job at this stage is to start things off, from which will emerge a protagonist and a director.

Warm-up, enactment, sharing, writing/reflecting, continue...

The basics of any practice group are firstly spending some time on connecting up as a group. Whoever takes the group leader role will make sure everyone has connected up, especially if folks are not familiar with one another. This can be the easy way or simply asking each person, or some other familiar format, or the more complicated way of ... trying something new out. Secondly a director and a protagonist are chosen or they volunteer. This may have been done in the connecting or warm-up phase. This leads to the enactment phase where the director uses whatever skills and abilities they have to get with their protagonist and produce a psychodrama, the others work to be cooperative auxiliaries, and only if someone is completely stuck, do they ask for assistance form others. Sometimes seeking assistance reduces clarity and sometimes increases it. It may be worthwhile for the director to have one person to be their fall-back buddy. If all else fails ask the protagonist, they usually know anyway! Then once the enactment is over/complete/as far as it will go, then sharing happens as all participants share from themselves about their own experiences. This is not the time for the director to share about the experience of directing but to maintain their role and facilitate the sharing.

After the sharing it is worthwhile to spend a short while with some reflective writing. Following this with some reflection in the group and letting one another in on your reflections. Whatever conclusions you may come to I encourage you to treat them lightly.

If there is time for another psychodrama then either a director steps forth and invites a member to be a protagonist or a protagonist steps forth and invites someone to be their director.

You are not alone

Your dilemmas and delights may be brought back to the training group, or brought back for one to one supervision.  You are certainly invited to send writing to me for comments, or suggestions, or simply to keep me up to date with your practice group’s going-ons.

As best you can, make sure the person who is to start the next week is chosen and the formal session writer also volunteers. The formal session writer will write up a short part of the session, either part of the warm-up or the enactment or the sharing including a largely objective description and some comments, role naming or interpretations. A short part of the session might only be 3 minutes or 30 minutes or it might even be a general overview of the whole session. A page is about right, two pages is OK if there are diagrams.

Afterthoughts and reflections

For those of you who would like to make more of your experiences, including the regular training sessions, written reflection can be enormous valuable. Here is a link to two types of reflective writing that if you decide to use, may significantly assist your capacity to learn from your own experiences.