Role play is a method of group and personal involvement in which people act out problem situations and then try different ways of dealing with them. It provides a training in interpersonal skills and relationships through which the participants, both actors and observers, develop insight into their own behaviour and the behaviour of others.

The problem holder begins by describing the situation he or she wishes to manage differently and then asks members of the group to take on the roles of the other significant people involved in the situation. For example, one person may take on the role of the problem holder’s boss; or the group may collectively take on roles of the various individuals within the team the problem holder manages.

The problem holder then puts the participants in role by demonstrating the individual roles, including ways of sitting and moving, typical things that might be said and describing, in role, how they feel about the situation.

The situation is then acted out. After a while the group leader will stop the action and ask the participants, including the problem holder, to give feedback in role.

The group then brainstorms different ways of managing the situation and the problem holder may select one or two approaches to try out and get further feedback on.

The role play ends by de-roling the participants (ensuring they return to being themselves and are no longer carrying aspects of the role, either in their own behaviour or in the way they are being responded to).

There may then be some general discussion about the learning arising from the role play.

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