Skills for Co-Creating Communities

There are numerous ways to co-create community, but one of the most powerful and effective processes I have experienced and used is sociometry with psychodrama, sociodrama, sociatry, and/or other action methods. Sociometry provides methods for identifying, measuring, exploring, and understanding patterns in the way we make choices interpersonally – whether positive, negative, or neutral.

When facilitated by skilled practitioners, the process of surfacing these choices brings new information to group members about their connections. It also helps them clarify the rationales they and others have about those choices. Sociometry used with sensitivity and skill can create an environment of safety, trust, and respect – a place and space where group members can be their authentic selves.

This cohesion can develop, because sociometric methods clarify misperceptions, highlight connections between people, identify commonalities, surface information about access to roles, and provide opportunities to address conflict. Combined with psychodrama, sociodrama, or sociatry, people have the freedom to explore in action the personal or collective stories that might be preventing authentic connection. They also can help heal society and the world.

Psychodrama has several definitions, but the one I like most is from John Nolte, who trained extensively with J.L. Moreno, the father of psychodrama. John considers psychodrama an action method for telling a story. Whether dealing with unfinished business, sharing a meaningful experience, exploring a dream, working through a conflict, training for a new role, or imagining the future, psychodrama facilitates telling one’s story with the help of others in the group.

Sociodrama is another action method that surfaces collective social issues a group wants to explore, understand, and perhaps imagine differently. Though personal perspectives are shared, and group members connect with their own experiences, this method invites members to take not only their perspective on an issue, but to stand in the place of those who view the issue differently. This often shifts one’s awareness and lead to healing society and the world, which Moreno called sociatry.

Other action methods that promote healthy interpersonal relationships and/or help build a sense of community include Playback Theatre, Family Reconstruction, Family Constellations, Theater of the Oppressed, and the Public Conversations Project. However, most of my training has been in psychodrama, sociometry, sociodrama, and group psychotherapy. I qualified in 2011 as a trainer in psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy thr the American Board of Examiners.

I’ve taken basic and advanced training in Family Reconstruction with Bill and Ann Nerin; core training in Playback Theatre with Jo Salas; and a couple of days training in Theater of the Oppressed with Augosto Boal and Doug Paterson. In addition, I’ve been part of some Family Constellation work, and I am anxious to attend some Public Conversations training sessions.

Finally, I have used sociometry and action methods in most workshops, retreats, and conferences I have facilitated for over twenty years. When I do that, I find myself and other people tapping into deeper understanding and greater connection with others in the group. Personally, these methods, which are embodied well in Moreno’s Canon of Creativity, have been pivitol in helping me become ‘a recovering serious person’. Thank goodness!

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