Normally, a person performs a variety of roles in the family, at work, and in the community. Maintaining these roles intact is of critical importance for the well being and personal identity of the individual. Persons with a physical illness or disability may face a reduction or termination in the number of roles they can sustain. The use of role-focused groups as a treatment method is based on role acquisition and transformation concepts derived from theories of sociology, psychology, and occupational therapy.

This paper presents relevant concepts of role acquisition, describes the relationship between the disability and its impact on personal role functions, and examines the factors contributing to erosion of specific adult, occupational, family, and avocational roles. It offers guidelines for evaluation and explores the use of role-focused, interactive, experiential groups both in role maintenance and as a treatment method for role disorders. Finally, a variety of role-focused group models and themes for treatment are described.

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