The technique of role reversal is most frequently used within a psychodrama. Psychodramas are theatrical enactments of real or fantasied events performed within a group setting. A role reversal occurs when the main subject exchanges places with another person or someone who is role playing another person, concept, or inanimate object. In clinical practice it has been noted that some individuals are unable to complete a role reversal, demonstrating disorientation and confusion when they are attempted. This type of role reversal problem may be due to a lack of solid identity formation. J.L. Moreno and Zerka Moreno have formulated some ideas about identity formation and its connection to the ability to role reverse. Because their ideas were only partially developed. the additional theories of object relations and cognitive development have been explored. Of particular importance are those of Mahler. Jacobson, and some concepts from Winnicott and Piaget. The developmental tasks which are described by these theorists and which are necessary for a role reversal are investigated. Major concepts from object relations and cognition are compared to those of the Morenos. Clinical implications are considered. with particular attention to the question of the therapeutic value and safety of role reversals for certain types of clients.
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