A Life of Purpose
A trauma treatment specialist, Scott Giacomucci, M.S.S. ’15, sees clients—people struggling with trauma and addiction—at the Mirmont Treatment Center in Media, Pennsylvania. In his work with them, he draws on the psychodynamic theories he learned at Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. At the same time, he’s pursuing a practice doctorate in clinical social work at the University of Pennsylvania. As a scholar-practitioner, he hopes to integrate theory and practice—and, along the way, to embed a different therapeutic model into the field.
How do you see the field changing?
I come from the addictions field, where a lot of the treatment models just aren’t working well enough. And a lot of the research coming out about addiction—I’m thinking about the Adverse Childhood Experiences study—is highlighting a pretty strong connection between trauma, especially childhood trauma, and addiction in adulthood. I’m seeing a shift in the field, getting more interested in trauma work and making systems more trauma-informed.
What got you interested in teaching?
I’m a board-certified practitioner in sociometry, psychodrama, and group psychotherapy, and I have a passion for spreading this model. Psychodrama in the U.S. has been largely outside of academic institutions, whereas internationally you can find entire graduate programs. So part of my hope is to help embed sociometry and psychodrama into academic institutions here.
Exactly what is sociometry?
Sociometry looks at the quality and nature of relationships within a group—at the sociodynamics, the system of attractions and repulsions, of mutual choices within a group. Now that can also be looked at on a broader scale, looking at the social forces in society and how social wealth is spread unequally.
But, on a smaller level, sociometry examines the group dynamics within an individual group, within a class, or within a treatment group, within a community group, within the faculty of a social work school. And there are a variety of experiential sociometric tools that we can use to explore these group dynamics and help build group cohesion.
Psychodrama, on the other hand, is an experiential form of psychotherapy (also used outside of therapy) that integrates drama and role-playing with psychology. So, rather than talking about a solution to an issue, we put it into action. Rather than talking about grief, we talk directly to the person being grieved.
Psychodrama is based on role theory, on spontaneity-creativity theory, and it allows us to explore different roles—both social and intrapsychic—that one holds in life and to look at the interplay between them. It provides a client with opportunities to role reverse, to switch roles with others and see things from their perspective.
A lot of people think it’s just a collection of interventions, but it’s really a comprehensive philosophical system, with its own theory of personality, its own theory of change, its own theory of society.