Training Requirements

The training requirement for psychodrama certification is summarized in the following table:

Training Requirement for Certification
780 Total Training Hours460 hours (minimum) in face-to-face training groups led by TEP or PAT (maximum 160 hours from PAT)
100 hours may be accrued for:
  • Mental Health licensure
or certification or registration by:
  • American Art Therapy Association
  • American Dance Therapy Association
  • American Music Therapy Association
  • North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)
100 hours may be accrued for conference attendance (including non-TEP, non-PAT workshops) from:
  • Australia and Aoteroa New Zealand Psychodrama Association (AANZPA)
  • American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP)(including chapters)
  • American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA)
  • International Group Therapy and Group Process Association
  • Israeli Association for Psychodrama
  • North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)
  • Taiwan Association of Psychodrama (TAP)
120 hours (maximum) may be accrued for approved Distance Learning

During the first 100-200 hours of training, trainees are encouraged to experience a variety of trainers. It is suggested that trainees choose a Primary Trainer by the time 250 hours of training are completed. Because the Board requires that at least half of the required 780 hours of training are from the applicant’s primary trainer, trainees are encouraged to choose a primary trainer early in the process.

During training, in consultation with the Primary Trainer, the trainee identifies a secondary trainer who can help further expand the trainee’s skills and knowledge and can provide an additional source of assessment. Trainees are likely to recognize that they can benefit from the specialized expertise of other adjunctive trainers as well. At least a year before applying for certification, trainees identify another individual – a third professional endorser – who can observe their practice as a psychodrama director on at least two separate occasions during the three years prior to applying for certification.

Collect and file documents showing that you have participated in a training event. It should include the date, location, title of the event, name and credentials of the trainer(s). Trainer, Educator, and Practitioners (TEPs) certified by the American Board of Examiners (ABE) typically include a statement such as the following: “This activity may be counted towards ### Psychodrama Certification Hours as approved by the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry and Group Psychotherapy.” You also may credit up to 160 hours of psychodrama training offered by ABE-certified Practitioners who are in the process of becoming approved as TEPs, i.e. Practitioner Applicants for Trainer, or PATs. Documented conference attendance may also be counted towards psychodrama certification.

Persons who have accumulated psychodrama training hours and/or a supervised practicum are encouraged to contact the ABE if there are unusual circumstances that impede their progress to certification. The Board of Directors meets twice a year and all issues brought to our attention will be automatically placed on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board.

Primary Trainer

Only those individuals who are certified as Trainers, Educators, and Practitioners (TEPs) can serve as Primary Trainers for individuals seeking certification in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. The Board recommends that, if possible, trainees participate in training events from several trainers before choosing a primary trainer. People choose Primary Trainers for a variety for reasons, including national training reputation, training specialty, personality style, geographical access, and personal preference.

This is a long-term (3 years or more) relationship, which includes a variety of roles over time, and thus, needs to be seriously undertaken by both parties. Trainees should make sure it is a good fit, taking into account considerations such as the trainer’s availability, response to emails and questions, how they provide feedback, willingness to help, costs for supervision, actively giving enough training opportunities, and planned duration of training if the primary trainer is if close to retirement. Also, be aware that some primary trainers have requirements that exceed the minimal standards specified by the Board’s certification standards.

Although only individuals certified as TEPs can serve as primary or secondary trainers, applicants for certification may credit training from other providers including:

  • up to 160 hours of their training from individuals who are certified as CPs and are formally admitted as Practioner Applicants for Trainer (PATs) and
  • certified Trainers, Educators, and Practitioners (TEPs) by Board of Examiners from other countries that have established formal reciprocity agreements with the American Board of Examiners

Primary Trainer Roles

  • Guides overall certification training process with trainees.
  • Develops individualized training plan for the adult learner.
  • Helps select Secondary and Adjunctive Trainers and collaborates with them to maximize learning for the trainee.
  • Helps develop an approved Supervised practice plan.
  • Maintains accurate records of training and supervision hours.
  • Provides regular evaluations and written feedback.
  • Provides examination support to achieve competency.
  • Endorses candidate for the certification examinations.

Primary Trainer Responsibilities

The Primary Trainer is a TEP who is responsible for closely working with the trainee to create, implement and evaluate each trainee’s plan for acquiring knowledge, skills and abilities in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. In order for a trainee to be admitted to the certification process, the Board requires that the Primary Trainer has provided a minimum of 390 hours of training to the trainee and requires that the Primary Trainer is willing to endorse the trainee for certification The Board believes that the Primary Trainer’s stance toward trainees is guided by the question “What can I do to help you reach your aspirations and dreams?”

Ideally, the Primary Trainer observes the trainee in a number of practice and training settings, including, but not limited to:

  • On-going training groups
  • Residential training
  • Specialized skill application sessions

It is also expected that the Primary Trainer will witness the trainee in the roles of director, protagonist, processor, psychodrama demonstration leader, and a range of auxiliary roles, including double and antagonist.

Within the Primary Trainer role, the Primary Trainer serves several functions, including advisor, teacher, examination coach, and evaluator. The Primary Trainer also guides the trainee to choose a Secondary Trainer and to develop a plan and approve supervisors for the trainee’s Supervised Practice. The Primary Trainer also may provide all or part of that supervision.

Advisor and Guide to the Certification Process

It is important that Primary Trainers take the advisory responsibility early. It is essential that each Primary Trainer regularly and routinely inform their work-shop participants of the standards and requirements for certification. When a trainee has completed more than 80 hours of professional training, it is the Primary Trainer’s responsibility to clarify the requirements for training and the process of certification to each trainee.

The Primary Trainer explains the differences between training, supervision, and practice of psychodrama, and how each component is a necessary part of the training model in psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy. It is also the responsibility of the Primary Trainer to explain the differences between personal growth workshops and psychodrama training.


The Primary Trainer’s main responsibility as a teacher is to provide competent instruction, demonstration, and applied practice of the philosophy, history, theory, and methods of psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy. The Primary Trainer is responsible for providing training from the introductory to advanced levels of skill application. Additionally, the Primary Trainer must prepare the trainee to take the written and on-site examination.

When a Primary Trainer chooses not to conduct workshops on given areas of required knowledge and practice (e.g. sociometry, ethics, research, etc.) or lacks expertise in these areas, the Primary Trainer must ensure the trainee’s participation in the required training from adjunct trainers.

Examination Coach

The Board expects that the Primary Trainer will prepare the trainee for the examination process through- out the training process. However, in the final stages, the Primary Trainer will assist the trainee in the preparation and submission of application materials, as well as providing opportunities for study sessions, and/or mock examination simulations. If the trainee fails either examination, the Primary Trainer has the responsibility to identify and co-create a corrective plan of action to supplement areas of noted deficiencies.


The Primary Trainer is responsible for regularly and routinely evaluating the trainee’s performance towards the goal of certification. The Primary Trainer must provide concrete evaluation of the trainee’s progress, or lack of progress in completing the individualized plan for training. The Primary Trainer must provide written documentation of areas of weakness and suggestions for improvement, when progress is unsatisfactory or slower than anticipated.

Practicum Supervisor

The Primary Trainer provides supervision and/or works with the trainee to identify appropriate supervisors and establish a practice plan for the trainee’s supervised practicum.

Secondary Trainer

Each applicant for certification must also have a secondary trainer. The Secondary Trainer must also be certified as a TEP. The Board recommends that trainees select their Secondary Trainers early in the training process so that the Secondary Trainer can offer specialized areas of training and consultation over the course of the trainee’s training, education, and supervision. The Primary and Secondary Trainer collaborate with each other about the trainee’s development to co-create the best training experience possible.

Ultimately, the Secondary Trainer has the responsibility of evaluating the trainee’s development as a psychodramatist and endorsing that individual for certification. The Secondary Trainer must observe the trainee’s work directing sessions on more than one separate occasion which reveal the skill and knowledge relevant to the practice of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. The Secondary Trainer provides consultation regarding that work over time.

The Secondary Trainer:

  • Observes trainee direct a psychodrama session on more than one occasion
  • Provides competent training in specialized areas of skill, technique, theory, and methods
  • Collaborates with Primary Trainer
  • Endorses candidate for the certification examinations

Adjunctive Trainer

All TEPs who conduct psychodrama training work shops for credit towards certification are in the role of Adjunctive Trainer. The psychodrama community is rich in a variety of resources in styles and areas of training. The Primary Trainer is responsible for encouraging their trainees to take advantage of what is offered in the national and international communities.

It is the responsibility of the Adjunctive Trainer to advertise and deliver training workshops, and to clearly identify and define differences between personal growth and psychodrama training workshops.

The Adjunctive Trainer:

  • Distinguishes between training and personal growth workshops
  • Provides competent training in specialized areas of skill, technique, theory, and methods.

Third Professional Endorser

A Third Professional Endorser must have observed the trainee on more than one separate occasion directing sessions which reveal the trainee’s skills and knowledge relevant to the practice of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. Students in training may not endorse applicants for certification. An applicant must not endorse another applicant.


Each certified psychodramatist must have a basic foundation in five key mental health areas: Human Growth and Development; Theories of Personality; Abnormal Behavior(Psychopathology); Methods of Psychotherapy; and Social Systems (e.g., Family Therapy, Organizational behavior, etc).

Master’s level licensed mental health professionals or candidates who have master’s level mental health degrees are assumed to have these competencies and are not required to document their training and education. Examples of these master level mental health degrees include Master’s level degrees in Counseling or Clinical Psychology, Social Work, Mental Health Counseling or Pastoral Counseling, Expressive Arts Therapies, Art Therapy, Dance/ Movement Therapy, Drama Therapy, Music Therapy and Psychodrama.

Licensed mental health professionals will be required to submit a photocopy of their current license. Candidates not licensed as mental health professionals are required to submit relevant official graduate transcripts.

Individuals with Master’s degrees or higher who are not licensed mental health professionals or graduates may obtain education in these five key areas through completion of graduate study courses at accredited universities, training institutes and through independent studies offered by individuals qualified to teach these courses, as explained here.

Non-USA Education Requirements

Applicants for Certified Practitioner must submit evidence of at least a master’s level education in the field in which they intend to practice.

This requirement is addressed in three ways among USA applicants: (1) mental health licensure, (2) masters degree in mental health counseling or clinical psychology, social work, pastoral counseling, expressive arts therapies, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, or psychodrama (3) master’s degree or higher in a field other than mental health in which they intend to practice. In the third situation, candidates must demonstrate that they have completed undergraduate or graduate coursework or the equivalent in five key foundational areas (human growth and development, theories of personality, abnormal behavior / psychopathology, methods of psychotherapy, and social systems).

The ABE does not have the resources or knowledge to apply this standard to those living in a country other than the USA. Accordingly, the Primary Trainer who endorses an application must assess the educational background of each non-USA psychodrama trainee to determine whether they have at least a master’s degree from an accredited university in the field in which they intend to practice. The Primary Trainer also must assure that the applicant’s supervised practicum corresponds with their master’s level educational background and the area in which they intend to practice.

Psychodrama trainees who live in a country other than the USA and who wish to become certified are required to have their Primary Trainer’s approval for their master’s level education. The Primary Trainer’s signature on the CP Application Form is an affirmation that the Primary Trainer has reviewed the applicant’s educational background and determined that it is consistent with the USA standard.

Pre-approval of an applicant’s educational background is recommended. Particularly in cases where the applicant’s education is not in mental health the primary trainer must submit a review and request for approval of the trainee’s educational qualifications.

The Primary Trainer’s written request for educational approval must contain the following information:

1. A brief paragraph about the primary trainer’s role in providing training and supervision to the trainee. This should include the country where the trainee is living.

2. A testament that that the college or university where the trainees received their education is accredited by that country.

3. A statement indicating the field of study of the graduate degree.

4. A description of the plan for the supervised practicum experience including a brief description of the population where the applicant will be providing services and how the practicum experience aligns with the applicant’s educational background and the intended area of practice for that trainee.

5. When the trainee does not have a graduate degree in a mental health related field, verification that the trainee’s plan for completing the five key foundational educational areas as required by the ABE (See “Non-Mental Health Education Verification” form on our website). The Primary Trainer must also verify that an accredited college or university is offering these courses. When the courses are being provided via independent study then the name of the instructor, the plan for the curriculum, and the instructor’s C.V. must also be included.

Revised November 2020