What is a Sociodrama?

A Sociodrama is a facilitated group experience that helps a group discuss a topic that is of interest to the group.  The Sociodrama helps us understand perspectives and experiences within that topic, provides catharsis and validation, trains on roles, and improves communication.  

A sociodramatic process can be used by a business or a community to solve a host of problems, from poor communication in a family or among co-workers, to resentment and competing coalitions within a workplace, to aggression and injustice in a community.   It brings us together in a respectful way to discuss complex issues and find solutions.  

What is Sociometry?

Sociometry is the quantitative study and measurement of relationships within a group of people. Information gathered through a survey asks about connections with others in the group. The resulting dynamics are charted and analyzed for greater insight for managers and to inform training interventions.

What is a Sociodramatic Training?

A sociodrama is a group-action method in which participants act out an agreed-upon social situation in order to express and clarify their thoughts and feelings, solve problems, deepen their understanding of the situation and become better communicators. Unlike traditional didactic trainings which only engage the intellect, sociodramatic trainings provide a full-body learning experience that engages the body, mind and emotions.

What is the Sociodramatic process?

The “director” of the group leads the members through engaging “warm-up” activities to help group members transition from being outside the group to being in the group. 

These activities create an opportunity for gradual sharing and learning about each other, from basic fact-based such as, “How long did it take you to drive here?” to preference-based questions such as, “Do you prefer to work individually or as a team?” to opinion-based questions, such as, “In a time of workplace transition, how important is it to talk about what is going on?” 

The sociodrama moves from simpler, low risk questions, to more complex and opinion-based questions. 

At this point, the director will start listening for stories from the participants about the topic being discussed.  The group will then move to the enactment phase.  

 The enactment is a fictional role play of a situation that could actually happen in real life.  It contains elements of the combined experiences of the people in the room, and it is always a situation that everyone can relate to in some way.  

For example, the group may decide to explore the dynamics between middle management, upper management and direct care workers in the time of a budget crunch.  In this example the participants are “enrolled” to play the different roles and the director asks them to interact after the group fleshes out the characters and the situation and problems these characters are facing. 

The director then facilitates the enactment to help the enactors explore the thoughts, emotions and behaviors of the characters. 

What do Sociodramas teach us?

Sociodramas help us gather new information about complex situations and issues. Giving us new perspectives and a deeper understanding of emotions and lived-experiences.  This is information that cannot be found by reading an article or discussing an issue with others.  

We need this new information to solve social problems at work that may be impeding good team process or to move from a place of anger and frustration about a political issue, to one in which we are less reactive and can see solutions.  

Sociodramatic process allows for catharsis of emotion, expanding of perspectives, a deeper understanding of social issues, and more effective communication.  

Why is the Sociodramatic process so important now? 

In this time of rapid changes to our society and widespread polarization, our old ways of figuring out problems by talking about them and debating them is not working.  It only leads to more polarization, anger and frustration.  

We need a new and respectful way of engaging people in solving the big problems at hand caused by the pandemic, economic disparities, and racial injustice.  

The Sociodramatic process may help now because:

  • Complex societal problems not only involve facts and numbers, but also real people.  The sociodramatic process gives us the information we need about perspectives, emotions and experiences of real people.  

  • The sociodramatic process is community building because it purposefully creates safety and trust in a group of people.   Each individual feels seen and heard, and not judged, which helps people want to work together, not against each other.

  • The sociodramatic process also helps people move from stuckness and fear to creativity and hopefulness. In this way, participants see solutions to complex problems that they didn’t see at the outset.  

In conclusion, debate and talk have limitations.  They confine us to the cognitive range of our experience.  A Sociodrama deepens our understanding of a situation by also engaging the emotions and the senses.

Some examples of situations for a Sociodramatic Training include:

  • Difficult conversations between husband/wife/partners or managers/workers:
    Resulting in more effective and sensitive communication in real life.

  • A medical-based scenario with a cancer care team, patient and patients’ family:
    Resulting in more effective and sensitive communication in real life.

  • A workplace with factions and gossip:
    Resulting in increased willingness to work together and less time spent on conflict.

  • Contentious social issues such as race relations and political polarizations:
    Resulting in decreased contentiousness and increased respect and willingness to cooperate.

  • A parent figuring out how to parent teenage children:
    Resulting in increased assertiveness and less reactivity.

  • A workplace with low professionalism:
    Resulting in an increased understanding of professionalism and its impact on the customer experience.

For more information on Sociometry and Sociodramatic interventions and how they are used to help individuals, families, civic organizations and businesses, see the following resources:

The Organisational Development Company (https://diana-jones.com/services/sociometry/)
What is Sociometry? (http://www.psychodrama.org.uk/what_is_sociodrama.php)

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