Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ann Hale speaks on fine points of sociometry

I like to call Ann Hale the grand mistress of sociometry, the science of evaluating the social relationships in our lives.While most of us divide our skills between sociometry and psychodrama, sociometry is Ann's true love and she is very, very good at it. She's the go-to person when most of us have a sociometric question.

After J.L. Moreno died in 1974, the training program at the Moreno Institute in Beacon, N.Y., was re-established by Dr. Moreno's widow and collaborator Zerka Moreno. Zerka was the main trainer  and enrolled Ann Hale and John Nolte as additional trainers.

Ann's site is the International Sociometry Training Network, which is rich with content on social relationships. Recently she posted an essay on Grouptalk, the psychodrama community's discussion list, that I snagged to offer to the larger audience.

She writes about sociometry as it relates to spontaniety, action, tele, role theory and more. 

Read on:

As anxiety increases, spontaneity decreases. Taking time to create an environment where participants find ways to become receptive to one another, their differences and similarities, helps decrease the anxiety related to belonging, fitting in and the creation of a "mistakes allowed" atmosphere. This is often referred to as group building. group building can occur with a sequence of psychodramas. However, if you do not take time to look at patterns of choice making for roles, people get lost and their needs for roles unexamined.

If your energy is tied up with hiding your authentic self you have less energy for action.  Being playful is a great energizer.  Being happily connected to others is a springboard to more and more spontaneity. It is important to remember that "play" for some people was fraught with cruelty and humiliation. The action increases opportunities for integration rather than repeating old patterns which once promised safety and which now keep you stuck.

Sociometric exercises may be useful; however, they can be quite hurtful if leaders and group members have inadequate training and haven't the skill to slow the process down to connect choices people make with their personal story.  This is one reason why I do not separate sociometry from psychodrama.  Once the story is explored in action (even short sequences of action), there is a greater awareness of what prevents authentic connection.

I see tele and empathy as a result of having integrated life events; and transference as a result of an internal push within a person to attain completion of a life event in order to reach true integration. The transference is projected onto a likely auxiliary ego who may or may not choose to assist the person's integration.

The cultural conserve where the role perception and role expectation reside,  once challenged,  begins a process of warming up to something new and leaving the role taking position.  Internal or interpersonal supports help a person in their warmup to role playing the options that occur to him or her.  Role creating results from an energetic state where the momentum received from interpersonal connection and enthusiasm generates an "over the top" experience of novelty and usefulness.  Throughout the connections necessary to engage in this process is enhanced by being connected with positive sociometric relationships.

She notes that she has always liked Jonathan Fox's definition of spontaneity:  "Knowing what is happening, and when to articulate it and to act on it. And, when not to articulate it and act on it."  Sociometry is walking that path.