PLACATER Family Role (Part 1)

I have to make nice


SITE: Conflict Styles


❧ PLACATER Role  – a Twisted form of Service
Combination of the Satir & Wegscheider versions

Placater’s GOAL
Provide soothing to make others feel better in general & specifically about themself


For Self: try to not keep getting abandoned, to feel safer = not get hurt & be loved – by calming everyone, preventing conflicts or any overt expression of anger
For Family:  When parents are impaired in some way, they become a surrogate. Born negotiators, they seem to have an uncanny ability to ‘read’ what others are feeling, but at their own expense. Learn early to smooth over potentially upsetting situations & take responsibility for everyone’s pain & emotional well-being

BIRTH ORDER: can be oldest child, usually the girl
IN SCHOOL : very compliant, well-liked, so-so students – preoccupied with other’s problems rather than studying
placater girlUsed as the family social worker, inappropriately told all the adult’s problems, ‘valued’ for not being any trouble

Few self-protective boundaries, don’t have a clear identity of their own, are not in touch with their own emotions & needs, so can’t get them met, are ‘lost’ without someone to please or fix

FROM: “If I’m nice, everyone will like me”
“Don’t rock the boat”
“If I focus on someone else, it won’t be on me & that’s a good thing”
“If I take care of you, you won’t reject or leave me ”
“I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. I’m here to make you happy.”

TO: “It’s ok to have a focus of my own”
“I am likable without having to take care of others”
“I don’t have the power to keep someone with me, but if they stay it’s because of who I am, not what I do for them”
“I can do whatever suits me best, in all situations”

• Actually believe they care so much about others & that no one cares for them. Can be great listeners
• Are mainly concern is on themselves & how they’ll be perceived.
• Develop a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior, will take the blame for things not their fault (ironically), thereby protecting others from taking responsibility for their choices & actions
• Efface & belittle themselves, while inflating others, to get brownie points & stop possible aggression
• React to stress or ‘uncomfortable truths’ by trying to ignore them, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths to avoid confrontations
• May sacrifice themself – willing to lose so others can win

Frustrated rage, fear, guilt, low self-esteem,  powerlessness. Show shame via depression, perfectionism, victimization

Deep sense of not being good enough just as they are, nor have the right to get equal attention & caring from others.  Denying personal needs, they’re unable to receive, have ‘false’ guilt, a great fear of conflict & anger, are hyper-vigilant with high anxiety

AS ADULTSover-giving
They’re often in abusive & one-sided relationships (with spouse, children, friends, bosses…), constantly giving without getting anything back.  Are overly responsible so become excellent enablers, marring addicts or other ‘broken’ people.

Often choose careers as helping professionals, which can reinforce the tendency to ignore their own needs, such as social workers, nurses, therapists…. (more likely in ‘supportive’ positions, so not often male doctors)

TO: Allow the child to focus on themself & not others, separate their personal worth from doing / care-taking, teach them to express emotions & playing

BY: Validating P’s intrinsic value (being vs doing), helping them develop ability to take care of & prioritize needs for themselves, so when child IS helping another – ask them what he/she is feeling at the moment)
• Parents talk about & act in ways that reinforce how adults take care of themselves & other family members, so the child can relax

NEXT: Placater #2

2 thoughts on “PLACATER Family Role (Part 1)

  1. For two plus years, I have worked with a person who placates. At first I didn’t realize the characteristics of this role.
    Last week this person attempted to un do everything I was trying to do in helping a child with serious behavioral problems…
    In this person’s own words: when I confronted this person about overstepping her boundaries the person said: I was just trying to smooth things over,
    My response it is not needed or necessary to smooth things over….the child’s caretaker needs to know the problems this child is presenting. The placating behavior was denied.


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