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Therapeutic Role-Playing

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Updated October 20, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition:

Therapeutic role-playing is a technique that allows a person with a phobia to practice new behaviors. In a role-playing session, the therapist takes the identity of someone that the person is afraid to confront, such as a parent or employer. The person then interacts with the therapist, utilizing behaviors that she has learned during therapy. After the role-playing session is complete, a debriefing takes place in which the client and therapist discuss what happened and ways to improve the interaction. This technique can be particularly helpful for those suffering social phobia, germ phobia, or other interpersonal phobias.

Examples:
Jessica's social phobia caused her great difficulty in job interviews. Through therapeutic role-playing, Jessica's therapist helped her develop more effective interviewing skills.
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