Guidelines for Examiners of the Practical Assessment

General Principles

Preparation by the Examiners

Examiners are thoroughly aware of all the material in the Training and Standards Manual and approach every aspect of the practical assessment process from the point of view of the Manual. Thus examiners assess the applicant from the point of view both of the Content, Ability and Professional Identity Requirements Applicable To All Trainees in Section C on pages 5 – 11, and the requirement of a clear understanding of the concept of psychodrama, and an ability to warm up an individual or group to developing personal functioning and resolving personality problems as specified on pages 8 – 11. The examiners must also familiarize themselves with the other specialized areas of knowledge outlined on page 13.

Assessment Criteria

The passing of an applicant for the practical assessment is indicative of a demonstrated ability to conduct a session in accordance with several criteria:

  • The session is conducted in a professional manner in a 1½ hour time period.
  • The psychodrama session is relevant and effective for the protagonist and the group.
  • The session is presented and discussed in a professional manner.
  • The examiners have a reasonable expectation that the applicant will be able to conduct effective sessions in the course of their professional work in the future.
  • The applicant is committed to further learning.
The Preparation for and Conduct of the Session
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all necessary arrangements for the conduct of the session are completed. This includes negotiating for the use of an adequate group area, the adequate setting up of the audience and action areas and provision of any props such as additional chairs for auxiliary work. The applicant also arranges for participation of at least 8-10 and no more than 18-20 people and where appropriate negotiates a small fee for participants to cover costs of room hire and supper, where appropriate. Applicants are to make sure that appropriate arrangements have been made for transport from airports, accommodation, and other needs of visiting examiners. The applicant is responsible for starting and concluding the session on time. The usual time for the experiential group session is one and a half hours. The applicant begins by warming up participants to the work of the session. Applicants are discouraged from highlighting the fact that this is their assessment or formally welcoming the examiners. Applicants are expected to utilize a dramatic structure involving the three phases of warm up, action, and integration or sharing. In order successfully to complete the session in the one and a half time period, the applicant normally completes the warm up phase in a time ranging from 5–20 minutes. 45–60 minutes are normally needed for the action phase in order that the applicant completes a satisfying piece of work and utilise a range of roles and techniques. At least 10 –20 minutes is usually needed for the integrative phase.
The Verbal Presentation
The verbal presentation of the session with the examiners and members of the group is crisp and clear and completed within a 20 minute period. It covers three areas: The first area is an objective description of what is said and done in the session. This description is not mixed with interpretation, analysis or evaluation. The second area is a discussion of the process of the session and relationship systems using the language and concepts of role theory. On the basis of this role analysis the applicant generates workable ideas as to further work and development that could be done by protagonist(s) and other group members. The third area is a discussion of their directorial functioning showing adequate self-reflection, systemic analysis, and indicating ways in which they would correct and improve their functioning in the future. In the discussion the applicant is able to maintain a working relation with their peers and other practitioners.
The Tasks of the Two Examiners


The examiners arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes before the starting time for the assessment session with all necessary materials such as the Training and Standards Manual and writing materials. They introduce themselves to the applicant and await the start of the session. The assumed reality is that the applicant is in charge of the session. The examiners have a low profile. The examiners arrange seating for themselves. This should be unobtrusive, usually behind the group and to one side and not necessarily together. They are to each make an independent assessment.

The Conclusion of the Experiential Session

When the applicant has concluded their session the examiners take responsibility for the conduct of the group. One examiner will normally remind the applicant that they now have 45 minutes to make preparations for reporting on the session and invite them to leave the room. The members of the group are then reminded of the three areas of the presentation and of the questions and discussion that will occur. Members are advised that after the conclusion of the Verbal Presentation members may ask questions involving any straightforward matters of clarification, such as, “What did you mean when you said …?” (Usually no questions are asked at this time.) Such questions are to be answered briefly and there is to be no discussion of the answers. The examiners have the role of warming up the members of the group to the assessment process. In line with this educative function the examiners may give the group members some tasks, such as identifying the theme of the group, or identifying the central role in each role system enacted in the drama. The examiners ensure that this interaction with the group is brief and that there is time for a refreshment break. The examiners will usually wish to consult with one another during this break. When the applicant returns to the group one of the examiners invites them to make their Verbal Presentation. When this is concluded the examiners allow clarifying questions about the meaning of words to be asked. The examiners then take initiative in commencing discussion with the applicant (max 55 minutes). This usually involves an invitation to amplify what has been presented in specific areas or to discuss an important area that has been omitted from the presentation. The examiners invite the members of the group to involve themselves in this discussion. The examiners give their own assessment during the discussion when this is appropriate. It is expected that the areas of adequacy are presented first, and under-developed or absent areas are discussed later. The examiners present their decision to the applicant and ensure that there is adequate opportunity for this to be absorbed by the applicant and the group. If the examiners give coaching this is not to be done with a view to the applicant resolving difficulties and thereby passing. The examiners present their decision to the applicant and ensure that there is adequate opportunity for this to be absorbed by the applicant and the group.

The Examiners’ Decision

The examiners’ decision is to be under one of the following headings:


The decision to Pass is based on an assessment of the total session. One applicant who has conducted an experiential session that is less than adequate, yet, in the verbal presentation has demonstrated knowledge and ability to make needed correction and improvement may pass. In some cases, an applicant who has conducted an adequate experiential session and made a poor verbal presentation and discussion may not pass.

Incomplete Pass

This decision may be made when the person has demonstrated competence in all but one area in the session. The examiners will recommend a specific task whereby the applicant proves their competence in that area and designate who will make that assessment.

Not Passed

In making this decision the examiners will also recommend whether the applicant will be allowed to re-do the assessment and when it may take place.

The Assessment Report

The written Assessment Report is to be forwarded to the Practical Assessment Registrar, AANZPA Board of Examiners, PO Box 4337, Christchurch, New Zealand, within three weeks of the date of the assessment session.

Writing the Assessment Report for a Psychodramatist


It is advisable for the two examiners to come to an agreement on their main findings and record them in a written form immediately after the assessment session. The examiners assume the task of writing the report in good form.


The first examiner completes a written report within one week of the assessment and forwards it to the second examiner for approval. The second examiner communicates any revisions to the report writer within one week. Any negotiation concerning the revisions is to be promptly completed by the two examiners after which first examiner forwards the final report to the Practical Assessment Registrar, within the allotted time.

Use of the Report

  1. The report is kept on file by the Board. It relates to the standards of training set by the Board and ultimately to eligibility for membership of AANZPA Inc.
  2. When the report is approved, the Practical Assessment Registrar will normally forward copies to the trainee, the Primary Trainer, to the Training Institute when the Primary Trainer is not on the staff of the trainee’s Institute and to the Secretary of the Board.
The Format of the Assessment Report
  1. A standard heading in capitals and centrally placed which includes the name of the trainee and the designation of the type of session. REPORT OF THE PRACTICAL ASSESSMENT OF MR PETER RIVERS TOWARD CERTIFICATION AS A PSYCHODRAMATIST BY THE BOARD OF EXAMINERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN AND AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND PSYCHODRAMA ASSOCIATION INC.
  2. Other details of the left hand margin as follows: Examiners: Dr Holly Anderson Mr James Handy Venue: Psychodrama Centre, Balmain, N.S.W. Date: 15 June 2010
  3. Paragraph 1. Statement as to whether the trainee has passed, not passed, or that the assessment is incomplete and an outline of the nature of the assessment. Example: Mr Peter Rivers has passed his practical assessment as a Psychodrama Director. This assessment consisted of conducting a group psychodrama session, a description and analysis of the session including a critique of his own professional functioning as director, and discussion of the session with the examiners and with his peers. Both the session and the subsequent discussion of it were adequate in terms of the training standards and assisted the members of the group in their personality development.
  4. The second paragraph is a statement about the standards of training, which have been completed. This paragraph refers to the standards contained in the Training and Standards Manual and is to be written in a format which would be suitable to include in a future reference written on the trainee’s behalf. Example: The standards of training for Psychodrama Director call for understanding and integration in systems theory, sociometry, organisations, role theory, family theory and family therapy, theory of group dynamics and group process, personality theory, clinical knowledge, understanding and application of the psychodramatic method, and development of professional identity including the ability to mobilise roles that bring about the satisfactory completion of the production, investigative and therapeutic phases of a session. Other abilities called for include assumption of responsibility for one’s own process, creative exploration of others views about oneself, experiencing one’s own spontaneity and creativity as against feeling powerful through the use of techniques and willingness to be involved in an ongoing process of learning. Mr Rivers has achieved a satisfactory level of competence in all these areas.
  5. The third paragraph summarises the trainee’s training experience giving dates when training began and finished. Include also the type of work done by the trainee so that the reader knows about the professional identity of the trainee. Knowledge of these items may be gained by asking the trainee or by reading the written summary of experiences which fulfil the training standards submitted by the trainee when they apply for their assessment. Example: Peter began his training in 2001 and since that time has had intensive periods of training in residential workshops conducted by Ms Mary Cantwell, Mr James Hand and Mr Harry Black. He has been an advanced trainee with the New South Wales Institute and has engaged in psychodrama training, group work training and regular individual supervision. His Primary Trainer has been Dr Jane Pauley and other major trainers have been Mr Jim Hill and Ms Mary Louchen. Peter works as a Clinical Psychologist and effectively integrates his ability as a psychodramatist into his clinical and administrative work. He is actively involved in the work of the local ANZPA Branch. Last year his thesis, titled ‘Doubling and Mirroring in working with Couples’ was passed by the ANZPA Board of Examiners.
  6. The next section is an appraisal of the trainee’s session using brief examples from the events of the session. Use headings which allow for a comprehensive coverage of the abilities required in the process of directing.

The following list of headings which cover various areas of practice related to professional competency is given to stimulate your thinking. In the writing of any report, it is not necessary to select all of these headings. The length of the report is usually between six to eight pages.

  1. Preparation a) of space b) of themselves in the role of the director c) of style, technique and group structure
  2. Initial Sentences a) the implied professional and personal warm-up of the director b) relationship to group warm-up
  3. Sociometry a) encouragement of sociometric connection b) awareness of spontaneous sociometric connection around an emerging theme.
  4. Structuring a) Structuring according to time and plan b) Process and dynamics which emerge concurrently with structure c) Structure and Flexibility
  5. Focal Conflict or Central Concern a) ability to summarise in one or two sentences b) identification of the motivating and reactive forces c) how director handled the emerging central concern
  6. Roles of the Director a) progressive or functional roles indicating which are developing and which are well developed b) fragmenting or dysfunctional roles indicating which are fixed and which are diminishing c) absent roles or roles requiring much development
  7. Central Drama a) purpose of drama b) establishment of a relationship with protagonist or group c) clarity of system in action d) breadth of the system in action e) action scenes grounded in a specific situation, time and place
  8. Spontaneity a) where it occurs in the drama b) does the director pick up on spontaneity when it is well developed or minimal
  9. Solutions a) how arrived at b) are solutions tried out in action c) are they anchored in here and now behaviour change d) are they role tested
  10. Maximisation and Concretisation a) are the roles accurately perceived by the director b) is instructing of auxiliary egos done sufficiently and accurately c) are body movements taken into account d) is there clarification and differentiation of the elements of roles
  11. Production Skills a) voice b) stance in room c) dramatic portrayal for audience d) production of open climate
  12. Clinical Skills a) a concept of the person – role systems and their function in the personality -development through the life cycle -perceiving the healthy direction in which the person is moving b) ability to relate in various settings to various kinds of people c) ability to understand and relate to different family, cultural and organizational systems

Example: Appraisal of the experiential session. The following are some more detailed critical comments on the session:

  1. At the beginning of the session, the director orients himself to the work of the group speaking of events pertaining to the work of the previous group session. A negative aspect is that the comments are too vague.
  2. He speaks with authority as he orients the group to the fact that its duration is one duration is one and a half hours. A positive relationship between him and the group members is established at this time.
  3. He is crisp as he enquires about the purpose of each person in the group and his relationship with the members of the group is further strengthened.
  4. The work of the group is furthered by one of the group members, Jack, focusing intensely on his purpose of developing thinking and coming to grips with fear which he perceives as a great obstacle. Peter listens well to Jack.
  5. The relationship system between the members of the group develops further as a result of two members of the group enquiring of Jack what he means and asking for him to say more. These two group members have trouble connecting with him and one of them explicitly says this and the other nods. The director maintains an interest in what is being said at this time. Jack in response to the two group members speaks of always being frightened and says: “I know I feel restricted in what I do.” Another group member speaks of her fears and of her achievement in overcoming them. She focuses on keeping on going with her commitment to this. Another group member, James, speaks of his fear and his constant battle to overcome it stating: “It would do good to have some means of doing this.” Jane also focuses on fear speaking of the panic arising at work and of how she gets out of this. Amy focuses on a time when she felt fear mentioning an incident where someone wanted to break down the door. During this group interaction, the director does not make anything out of the situations that are presented. He is warmed up to being non-directive. The neutrality of the director’s role contributes to the group members sitting on the fence.
  6. The director invites the members of the group to focus on the theme, about how it affects each person and about how they may be auxiliaries in the group in the group. He ignores a group member who for the first time speaks about a concern which he has. Instead, the director focuses on Jack suggesting that he direct him in psychodrama session with a view to his developing his thinking. He suggests that the session will be relevant to the group. The director is crisp and authoritative in this taking of initiative to further the work of the group by working with one group member at a greater depth. The members of the group are warmed up to the direction, which is suggested to them although there would have been a stronger warm up had the director included the group member who had expressed a new concern.
  7. At the beginning of the psychodrama session, Jack stands with the director and states that he wants guidance. He also says that he is warmed up to acting a scene with his father. Then he reveals that he is not able to give to himself and the director suggests he be completely self-indulgent. The interview which has gone on achieves a stronger link between the protagonist and the director and between the protagonist and the group members. Yet there is a diminishment of clear consciousness in the group due to the fact that the director does not clarify the purpose of the session nor crisply create a dramatic structure for the rest of the session.
  8. The director produces a scene in which a positive working relationship between the protagonist and the group members is enacted. The scene is enacted and directed crisply.
  9. The director enacts a second scene involving interaction of the protagonist with his father. The director warms him up crisply to the place which is at a river. The director produces the scene easily and throughout is clear, calm and present. The director brings about an expression of material which the protagonist did not express in the original scene. The director also warms up the protagonist to acting the role of his father. The interview for role is well done. At this point, the protagonist is embarrassed at his father’s functioning and wonders whether he will ever get to know him. At this time maximization of the protagonist’s functioning would be appropriate for furthering the protagonist’s warm up as well as appropriate to the purpose of the session. Had the director invited the protagonist to act his experience in a concrete dramatic form there would be a similar immediate deeper working by the protagonist. In fact the director organizes mirroring which is a weaker intervention. The effect of the protagonist watching a dramatic portrayal of the scene is his bringing forward the fact that this is the last opportunity the boy has to play with his father and that subsequent to this event the boy experienced abandonment and a very lonely time. The director produces interaction of the protagonist with himself and this results in a deeper experience of himself alone and a feeling of great sadness. There is an expression of his aloneness. During this time the director is present with the protagonist and his interventions are well timed. The protagonist comes to a clear recognition that he made a good decision to leave the family and be alone. The protagonist faces the pain of aloneness and cries a good deal. Also there is an expression of his being fed up by the situation. The director fails to have him reverse roles with his father at the time when he is affirming his decision to leave the family and this prevents that relationship being explored and a new resolution developed at a time when the protagonist is highly warmed up. However, the director does warm the protagonist up to other family members and he speaks with his brother. Subsequent to this the director does assist exploration and resolution of the relationship between him and his father and his mother through role reversal with both of them. The relationship with his sisters is also explored to some degree. The final result of this scene is that the protagonist accepts his own experience and thus develops a stronger relationship with himself.
  10. The director organizes the sharing portion of the session during which members of the group actively discuss aspects of their own living which are relevant to the protagonist’s drama. The sharing focuses on isolation and lack of caring in the family. One group member expresses appreciation for the protagonists creativity while he was playing by himself. Overall the director produced and adequate drama with a good resolution for the protagonist and the group, however, there was a tendency to cut off role development prematurely through too quick role reversals and through not building on what has been done already. 7. The next major section is on the verbal presentation and discussion. This includes an objective statement of the areas covered in the presentation and discussion and evaluative comment. Example: Presentation of Report and Discussion. Peter’s report of the session began with a description of the events which was accurate and crisp. Peter followed up the description of the events with a role analysis in which he delineated a key role of the protagonist, namely that of ‘determined survivor’. Peter characterized this as a coping role around which other roles clustered. He observes a fragmenting role in the protagonist delineating it as ‘sad, abandoned explorer’. He appreciates the new progressive developments of the protagonist terming his functioning as that of a ‘tentative relater’ and ‘hopeful enjoyer’. Peter’s discussion of his own functioning as the director demonstrated a good level of self-awareness, and ability to appreciate his adequate functioning, and an ability to correct mistakes which he made. He mentioned fearfulness about not finding a protagonist. He appreciated his functioning as a social investigator, naïve enquirer, systems thinker, and sociometrist. He appreciates the fact that he acted spontaneously for much of the time in the production and investigative phases of the session. He sees that he needs to develop himself further as a creative artist and in his use of surprise. He realizes that he gave adequate therapeutic guidance to the protagonist in the resolution of the conflict, not only acting as a coach but also believing in the creative genius of the protagonist throughout. During the discussion with the examiners and the group, Peter delineated the motivating and the reactive forces at work in the group in more detail. Throughout his discussion with the examiners Peter was non-defensive. He accepted that he was not as rigorous in his thinking as he could be during the early phase of the group session. He indicated that he panicked a little. He also demonstrated awareness of the fact that when there is intense expression he tends to internally move away from the person whilst physically moving closer. 8. The final section presents summary conclusions and recommendations. Example: Summary Conclusions and Recommendations In summary, it is concluded that Peter has developed an adequate ability to do therapeutic group work with people in a group session and is able to adequately conceptualize the dynamics of a group and the concerns expressed by individuals in a group. He is able to maintain a positive attitude in the group and assists group member to come to resolutions of conflicts as well as to develop creative functioning. The examiners encourage Peter to continue on with his aim of maintaining a creative presence with people when they are involved in very intense expressions. 9. The first examiner signs and dates the report.

Additional Guidelines for Examiners Of Theses


Guidelines for Examiners Of Written Papers Toward Completion of the Requirements Towards Certification as a Sociometrist, Role Trainer, Sociodramatist, or Psychodramatist

Examination Procedure

  1. There are two examiners for theses. The first examiner takes the responsibility of making an independent assessment of the thesis and forwarding this assessment to the second examiner who may wish to add to or amend the report. The second examiner returns the report to the first examiner approving of it or sending an amended report. The examiners come to an agreement on whether the paper is:
    -passed without further examination which means the thesis is suitable for publication in its present state
    -passed subject to the completion of specified minor alterations or additions to be made to the satisfaction of the Primary Trainer/Supervisor before being deemed suitable for publication
    -deferred, meaning that the candidate should be permitted to resubmit the thesis in a revised form for examination
    -not passed which means that the candidate should not pursue this subject or resubmit this thesis in any form.In the case of a paper being passed subject to the completion of specified minor alterations or additions, this means that if there are a large number of grammatical errors or typographical errors, or errors in sentence construction, the paper should be deferred. If there are sentences or paragraphs requiring more than a few minor changes which do not affect the content or argument of the paper, the paper should be deferred. In other words, minor alterations literally means minor alterations, only a few grammatical or typographical errors and only very minor changes to words here and there.

    When a paper is deferred, the examiner gives specific guidelines for the candidate to effect the revision.
    If the paper is classified as not passed, the examiner is invited to support this recommendation as fully as possible.

  2. Two examiners, appointed by the Board, assess the thesis with respect to its overall content, style, and format, and in the light of its contribution to the professional work of certified members of the Association, its trainees, and other professional people in the field.
  3. After reading the thesis and supporting documentation from the supervisor the two examiners make independent assessments that may take account of material from the supervisor’s statement. The examiners consult and arrive at a preliminary agreement.
  4. The first examiner consults with the supervisor so that the assessment takes account of understandings that have already been developed between the Institute, supervisor and author. The second examiner may also participate in this consultation.
  5. On completion of consultation with the supervisor and after consultation with the second examiner, the first examiner finalises the assessment report. The report includes a statement of any recommended or required alterations to the thesis content, style and presentation and may include material presented by the supervisor.
  6. The first examiner sends this initial assessment report to the author, the supervisor and the thesis registrar. The author completes any revisions. Editorial work rests with the author and supervisor. The supervisor returns the revised thesis to the examiners.Should the two examiners and supervisor be unable to arrive at an agreement after one or at most two attempts, the thesis registrar may invite one or more additional examiners to make an independent assessment and to make a new report.
  7. The first examiner writes a final report when satisfied that all requirements have been met, and forwards the report to the Thesis Registrar of the Board of Examiners with a recommendation for passing and publication.
  8. The Thesis Registrar of the Board of Examiners sends the final report to the author and copy to the Thesis Supervisor.

Examiners’ Report

  1. The Examiners report clearly states whether the thesis is passed, passed subject to the completion of specified minor alterations or additions, deferred, or not passed.
  2. The Examiners report may provide assistance to the writer with a view to successful rewriting, but they are not editors although in the past examiners have sometimes fulfilled a partial editing function. Examiners have frequently given very great assistance to the writer in the rewrite of their thesis although this is not to be done to the extent that it cuts out the work of the writer with their Primary Trainer/Supervisor. It is, of course, essential that examiners are not obsessional in their work as examiners and in the writing of the report.
  3. Examiners will not introduce their own preference for form or style of presentation. Nor will they require amendments in form or style that have not been specifically required of a candidate prior to the production and submission of their thesis.
  4. The assessment made by the examiners takes into account the considerable development and accomplishment that has already been recognised by the candidate’s trainers and colleagues through their approval of the work being presented. This is shown in the respectful language used in the report.
  5. The examiner’s comments build on the capabilities of the candidate as demonstrated in the writing. The comments are to be educative. Any critique is focused on specific pieces of the writing in the light of the “Guidelines for Thesis Writing.”
  6. Examiners may present other options as to practice, theory, or style of presentation if the writer demonstrates lack of awareness of alternatives.
  7. Examiners’ comments differentiate between what alterations or additions are required and what are recommended or suggested. They look for the candidate to make amendments in accord with what has been required and to consider, consult and decide what action may be taken with respect to recommendations.

Standards Of Writing

The thesis is to be of a scholarly/professional nature, suitable for publication. Endorsement of the work indicates that the examiners would wish trainees to read it. Given that trainees are likely to read the work, if passed and published, particular attention needs to be paid to ethical considerations in the gathering of data. Respect for persons in the study, even if given pseudonyms, is of paramount importance. Casual and harmful labelling of persons, even if under the guise of role descriptions, is unacceptable.

Examiners are to show similar respect to candidates and to avoid disrespectful or unsupported statements indicating ‘pathology’ in the candidate.

Other important characteristics of writing are:

  1. Readability.
  2. A structure giving appropriate signposts to the reader.
  3. Clinical soundness. Thus the reader does not get the sense that clients are abused by incompetence.
  4. The backing of theory. The writing involves theory and clearly shows what is the theoretical base.
  5. The thesis shows reflection and critique of theory and espouses practice. Self advertisement and unreflective comment is inappropriate.
  6. Referencing is to be according to some recognised process.
  7. An argument or point of view needs to be developed. Different points that may be listed have to be explanations of an argument or lead to something.

Time Factor In Making The Assessment

Examiners are asked to complete the assessment as expeditiously as possible. It is expected that the examiners’ send their initial assessment report to the supervisor within three weeks of receiving the thesis. It is also expected that the author will attend immediately to the examiners’ requirements and recommendations and that the revised thesis is sent to examiners within 4-6 weeks. For a re-submission beyond 6 weeks, a re-submission fee is charged and a new assessment cycle is initiated by the Thesis Registrar. The final examiners’ report is sent to the Thesis Registrar within 1-3 weeks of receiving the revised thesis. If the examiners experience considerable delays or factors affecting their engagement in the examination process they should consult directly with the Thesis Registrar.