An example of reflecting role play in family therapy

This role play was performed in front of a family (who are watching through a one-way mirror in an adjoining room).

Ben (left) plays the young person, aged 16. Pete (right) plays the parents of the young person.

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An example of reflecting role play in family therapy (Video file)

An example of reflecting role play in family therapy

This film is a role play of how two workers become 'family members' to help the family see how they come across via the role play.

Parents (Pete, on right): What I just wanna say is um ... you ... whether you know it or not, you have got a serious problem. We are here to help get you sorted out and the sooner you realise that the better.

Young person (Ben on left): (Sniff) Well I know I'm doing ... well, I know things are going wrong, you know... I mean I know I'm getting stuff wrong ... (sigh) but ... just that I can't do anything right. You know, whatever I do ... you know no-ones noticing... I just ... it's really stressful. I mean, you know, if you think I'm not trying, well you, you must be mistaken.

Parents: You're not trying; you're not trying enough. (Both speak at the same time).

Young person:  (Huffs) I am trying - I am really am. It's really hard and it's really annoying. I just - I'm annoyed with myself, but I'm pretty annoyed with ... you know, you keep going on ... I just want things to be different.

Parents: Yes, and who's ... who's' going to make things different?

Young person:  Well, I am ... if you think I'm not trying, you're wrong, I mean, what more do you want me to do?

Parents: Well, how can all of us ... what are you saying then? Are you saying that we have got to accommodate your every need? and make everything ... er ...make, change our lives completely in order to give you ... um, so that you have a good time at the expense of us? Is that what you mean Ryan?

Young person:  No, I don't want you to ch ... no, I don't want you to change everything. But I mean, I think... Sometimes ... sometimes just (huff)... I just don't feel like I've got any leeway. I can't make any slight little mistake, anything ... just... just I can't get away with it. I can't get away with it .I'm gonna make mistakes, because I'm a teenage boy, and that's what we do.

Parents: You're a teenage boy?

Young person:  Ok, you know, I get in more trouble than Annie did. I mean ...

Parents: Being in trouble with the police is hardly ... Ok a lot of teenage boys are in trouble with the police, but ... we haven't brought you up to be behind bars  -  let me put it that way.

Young person:  I don't want to be behind bars (long pause).

Parents: I wish I could ... I which we could meet you a bit more half way. You know, we'd like to do that, but, you've let us down so much before, that if we meet you half way, I mean, I just, we're gonna put our hands up. What can we do? You're family, we love you and yet you're doing this to us day in and day out (long pause).

Young person:  You know I'm not saying it's easy and I'm not saying I won't mess up, make mistakes, upset you. I'm trying, you know. I come here don't I. I come here every time. I try to listen to people. I try and do it but... as soon as I do anything wrong, its just a nightmare and I feel like, why bother, why bother, you know. Help me out, you know, what more can I say, I'm gonna get stuff wrong, you know I'm gonna get stuff wrong...

Parents: The only thing I will say is that since we came to this place three weeks ago, you have actually ... I don't know whether its you or the curfew, but things have been better than they were. They're not brilliant, but they have been better. Um, perhaps, I should say that... perhaps we should say that to you a bit more.