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The FIRO-B® and William Schutz’s Sessions

I have been into the FIRO-B® assessment lately, so I decided to read a little bit more about William Schutz (the creator of the assessment) to get an idea of how he developed the theory and the tool, and to learn a little bit more about his psychological background. Online, I found a really interesting excerpt from his book Here Comes Everybody: Bodymind and Encounter Culture that discusses unique ways to approach/assess a group’s needs for inclusion, control, and affection. I don’t know that I would recommend all of these exercises (especially in a business setting) but in the right group they might be fun to recreate. (I imagine they also would show a group’s level of needs very quickly.)


In Schutz’s “blind milling” procedure, he puts participants in a pitch-black room and directs them to wander around (the idea is that they will randomly bump into each other.) In practice, some people hover near walls outside the group while others look for people to hang on to, or walk around with. Schutz then holds a discussion about touch, individual “body bubbles,” belonging, and the invasion of space. All of these things, according to Schutz, reveal desires for inclusion.


To show one’s needs for control, Schutz creates a “dominance line.” In this exercise, Schutz has his group members form a single file line, with the most dominant people in the front and the more submissive at the back. (So the front of line ends up telling the back of the line where to stand. . . ) I wondered where I would go in the line, and realized that I would probably go wherever the group decided it was useful for me to go. I guess that means I wouldn’t be in the front!


I imagine that this exercise would cause the most discomfort in a group – Schutz calls it the “high school dance” exercise, possibly because it is as awkward as it is for most teens at a school dance! He tells participants to pair off with the person they find most attractive. Apparently this procedure evokes reactions of intimacy, sexuality, jealousy, and rejection, which taps into each individual’s need for affection. Again . . . don’t know that I would recommend re-creating this one!

I think no matter how individual needs are assessed, the information found by the FIRO-B tool can definitely help predict how effective a group effort will be. Schutz thinks that compatible groups work together better than groups composed of people with desires that clash, which makes sense to me. It also makes sense that in a business environment where the meshing of reciprocal needs and goal accomplishment (the two things that Schutz says comprise compatibility) are vital for success, using the FIRO-B assessment would help improve a group’s compatibility and effectiveness.


  1. Need help on FIRO-B certification program in Bombay, India.

    Please suggest the right organisation to go through the certification


    • Hi Payal, I sent your request to our international sales division and asked them to contact you directly. Alternativley, you can email:


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