Patrick Barone’s Psychodrama Certification Nears Completion

On August 7, 2017 Barone received an email from the Psychodrama American Board of Examiners that began as follows:

Congratulations!  Your application has been approved for admission to the 2017 examination process.

The examination process referred to here is the written comprehensive board exam that is required for certification as a practitioner of psychodrama.  Once this exam, and the “on-site” is completed, the successful candidate comes a “certified practitioner” or CP.

For all CP candidates, this year’s written comprehensive board exam will be given on October 21, 2017. The exam consists exclusively of essay questions and is conducted over 6 hours. There are two sections to the exam, with a one-hour break between sections. The first section covers the History, Philosophy and Methodology of psychodrama and candidates are given two hours to complete this section. The second section covers Sociometry, Ethics, Research and Related fields and candidates are given three hours to complete this section.

According to the American Board of Examiner’s web site, CP candidates must successfully complete this comprehensive written examination to demonstrate proficiency relative to the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successfully conduct group sessions in the fields of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. The comprehensive written examination assesses candidates on seven areas: History, Philosophy, Methodology, Sociometry, Ethics, Research/Evaluation and Related Fields.

The next step in the journey toward becoming a CP is to have a successful on-site evaluation.  The on-site is an observed psychodrama session consisting of a minimum of two hours and a maximum of three hours. During the on-site, the CP candidate should demonstrate an ability to lead a warm-up which facilitates the spontaneity of individuals and heightens the cohesion of the group; demonstrate an awareness of the Sociometry of the group in facilitating the warm-up process, and facilitate the choosing of a protagonist which best represents the group.

Additionally, the CP candidate, during the on-site, should demonstrate an ability to assist the protagonist in the transition from audience to drama while ensuring the warm-up process continues to develop, provide structures which enhance the spontaneity of the protagonist, and demonstrates an ability to appropriately use psychodrama.  The CP candidate must also demonstrate proficiency in the sharing, after the drama is complete.

Barone’s journey toward becoming a certified practitioner of psychodrama began in March 2007 when he attended his first seminar at the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College (TLC).  This seminar was entitled “Intro to Psychodrama.”  This seminar was required to be taken first in a series of 8 seminars/steps toward becoming a TLC graduate.  Certification in psychodrama requires a minimum of 780 hours of training in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy from individuals certified by the American Board of Examiners. These individuals are usually TEPs (certified by the Board as Trainers, Educators and Practitioners) but some of the training can come from those who are PATs (Practitioner Applicant for Trainer).  Barone received approximately 100/780 hours through TEPs at the TLC, including Louise Lipman, Don Clarkson and John Nolte.

Barone made the decision to pursue psychodrama practitioner certification in 2011, and shortly after, he selected his first primary trainer, Louise Lipman, LWSW-R/TEP.  In 2013, Barone selected Donna Little, MWS/TEP to be his secondary trainer.  In 2015, Barone selected Donna Little as his primary, and Barbara Guest, MSW/TEP as his secondary.  As part of his 780 hours, Barone also trained in sociodrama under Antonina Garcia, and in Bibliodrama under Dr. Peter Pizele, with whom he still trains.

As is probably already evident, obtaining psychodrama certification is a long and considerably involved process, usually taking anywhere from 5 to 7 years of continuous study. Because it is not possible in the United States to obtain a degree in psychodrama from any college or university, training is more akin to a mentorship or apprenticeship.

Barone began his supervised training in 2013. In addition to the 780 hours of training, each applicant must complete a supervised year of experience applying the theory and methods of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. As part of this supervision, the applicant must direct a minimum of 80 sessions (i.e. Individual, Couples, Family & Groups). Most of these sessions (40) must be group sessions. The applicant must obtain a minimum of 40 supervision sessions (each a minimum of 50 minutes) for these sessions (a ratio of one supervision session for every two directed sessions). A minimum of 1/2 of these supervision sessions must be provided by a TEP. Finally, applicants must also possess at least a Master’s degree in counseling or a non-therapy graduate degree (like J.D.).

Non-mental health professionals have one additional requirement. This is because, as indicated on their web site, the American Board of Examiners strongly believes that regardless of an individual’s background or professional education each certified psychodramatist must have a basic foundation in five key mental health competencies: Human Growth and Development; Theories of Personality, Abnormal Behavior (Psychopathology); Methods of Psychotherapy; and Social Systems (e.g., Family Therapy, Organizational behavior, etc). The fulfillment of this requirement amounts to 15 credit hours of Master’s level training, at an accredited university.

A foundation in these competencies is required so that all certified psychodramatists are aware of the normal developmental span of human beings, groups and organizations and that the powerful tools of psychodrama, sociodrama, and sociometry are appropriately used within those settings.

These key competencies provide a background for the professional psychodramatist to assess the strengths and vulnerabilities of the client and the settings in which psychodrama methods will be employed. The Board believes that education in these five key competencies will mitigate against any potential harm being done by individuals who are not mental health professionals.

During his supervised training, Barone has applied his psychodrama training in his law and trial practice, in his teaching of law and trial skills, sociodrama in the business environment and Bibliodrama and psychodrama in the church setting.

In his capacity as a business consultant, Patrick has worked with business owners and executives in businesses of all sizes throughout Michigan, including by way of example, TGI Direct, Movimento, AcuMax, A2 Energy Systems LLC, Spry Publishing, Compliance Training Partners/Drakeshire Dental, Booms Stone Co., The Hunter Group, LLC., Vistage Michigan, and dozens of other businesses and executives.

Barone looks forward to continuing working with Dr. Corby at the Michigan Psychodrama Center, where they will continue to offer psychodrama, sociodrama and Bibliodrama workshops and professional training.