Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 1278-1279


  • David HackettAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Psychology, Argosy University


Behavior rehearsal; Psychodrama


Role-playing is a technique, most often utilized in psychotherapy and skills training, whereby the child is instructed to reenact a response encountered in a specified situation. Widely used in the assessment and treatment of maladaptive behaviors characteristic of childhood disorders, the use of role-play provides an efficient means of sampling the child’s behavioral skills and/or deficits [3, 2].



Role-playing is a relatively nonthreatening technique used as a means of assessment, intervention, and engagement of children in psychotherapy. In general, due to the indirect and contrived nature of this technique, role-play can be used as an effective substitute to traditional “talk therapies,” particularly with those children who present as suspicious, guarded, fearful, or depressed as it provides a mode of interaction wherein the child is partially removed from that which he or she may be ...

This is an excerpt from the content