Friday Lesson: The Power of Role Play

John Bergman and Saul Hewish offer adaptable, experiential activities in their book, Challenging Experience: An Experiential Approach to the Treatment of Serious Offenders ©2003, Wood ‘N’ Barnes Publishing.

The subtitle of this book can make it sound intimidating or exclusive. But we encourage you not to let that keep you from tapping into some of the most creative and original activities Wood ‘N’ Barnes Publishing has to offer. Facilitators in the area of experiential education are experts at taking an activity and seeing all kinds of possibilities in it. While John and Saul have focused on serious offenders, we encourage our readers to think big and use or adapt these activities to fit their particular program or classroom.

Experiential activities using role play help us move beyond the limited powers of verbal expression. Clients/students can learn to tell their stories in some new ways as well as investigate fresh strategies for real-life behavior. These experiential tools help facilitators encourage “in the moment” responses very similar to real-life behavior, setting up the perfect situation to effectively solve problems and respond to situations just as we really do “in the now”—in the world.

When using role play, John and Saul recommend that you make it as simple as you can. The participants will then be able to make it their own and solve the problem in real time. Also, consider talking to participants about the range of affect they might experience and let them know THEY ARE FREE TO SAY NO TO ANY EXERCISE.

Statues In the Park

• Connect word, body and memory as a preparation for cognition and memory.
• A prelude to work on emotions such as rejection.
• Stimulate the imagination.

• Split the group into small groups of three or four.
• Ask them to imagine that they are statues in a park.
• Tell them you will call out a title, and they have to create statues that correspond to the title.

“Yeurgh, that’s disgusting!”
“Someone took my…”
“We won!”
“It’s a hurricane!”
“Oh, no! Pigeons!”
“Where’s my…”
“What a lovely Summer’s day.”
“It’s raining…”

• Try titles from themes such as: vacations, shopping, driving.

• What feelings did you have?
• What pictures came to mind as you were doing the statues?
• What memories did you have as you were doing it?

This lesson is compliments of The Wood ‘N’ Barnes Collective.

Thanks for joining us for Friday Lessons!

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