Guide to Training: Training

Psychodrama training is largely concentrated upon the skills of the psychodrama director. A classical psychodrama involves a protagonist whose life events, experiences, fantasies, dreams, and interpersonal relationships provide the material of a psychodrama, and a director who serves as chief technician and dramaturge. Linda Frick (in Hale, A., 1985, Conducting Clinical Sociometric Explorations, First Workbook Edition. Roanoke: Royal Publishing Company) has analyzed the director’s role into five functions, each of which calls for a number of specific skills. In her analysis, the director is a producer, analyst/guide, social investigator, as well as group member. Among other things directors must learn how to attend to their own personal warming up processes as well as to the warming up processes of the group as a whole and to the warming up process of the protagonist. Directors must have mastered the uses of the various psychodramatic techniques so well that the selection of a specific technique for a specific purpose is second nature. They must be able to facilitate the expression of the protagonist’s emotions as they arise, and that may include the expression of profound pain and fear or raging anger. Directors must also learn how to make protagonists feel safe in exploring those life experiences which may hold scary feelings.

These are skills which, like writing or painting or sculpting or riding a bicycle, can only be learned through practice. Psychodrama training workshops therefore consist largely of psychodramas in which workshop participants are given opportunities to practice as directors or to become protagonists. Being protagonist is an integral part of training because it is necessary for directors to have experienced what it is like to be a protagonist, and because directors must thoroughly understand their own internal responsiveness; they must know themselves as completely as possible, a ever-continuing project, by the way. Since psychodrama is usually a group endeavor, it is also important for directors to develop skills as group leaders and to learn to read and use group structure, the sociometery of the group.

The psychodrama training workshops of The National Psychodrama Training Center are residential in nature. They are held in conference centers where meals and bed are provided. Living together, working and playing together allows group process to proceed in ways that non-residential workshops cannot provide. Workshops typically start on a Thursday evening and end Sunday at noon. This permits eight three-hour sessions.

The training process, following the precedents initiated by J. L. Moreno, is non-linear. In practice this means that any workshop can serve as an introduction to the newcomer to psychodrama who has no previous experience, and can simultaneously serve as the completion of a long period of training for the advanced student who is ready for certification. At any workshop one will find participants with a wide variety of experience with psychodrama training. Experienced participants help newer ones learn the method, and enhance their own training by learning through training. This non-linear approach gives the maximum flexibility to the training process. Everybody proceeds at their own pace. Being unable to attend a specific workshop does not hamper your progress.