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The Will and The Skill: Applied Improvisation and The Process of Change workshop handout

"The secret is just to say 'Yes!' and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself in the present moment, always yourself, without sticking to an old self. You forget all about yourself and are refreshed. You are a new self, and before that self becomes an old self, you say 'Yes! and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast. So the point of each moment is to forget the point and extend your practice."   

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind


Learn group members' names;
Learn something about each group member's interests;
Practice a basic "yes" exercise which is the cornerstone of improvisation;

Participants stand in a circle. The leader begins by saying his/her name along with an activity he/she likes to and an action that goes with that activity: "Piano-playing Jude" while playing an imaginary keyboard. The group repeats the name and the action. Next person then says his/her …

The Power Of Story To Impact Behavior Change-workshop handout

The ability to craft and deliver a story is a key professional skill that is even more valuable in the digital world, in which there are constant competing demands on peoples' attention. According to neuroscientist Paul Zak, who conducts research into what is happening in the brain when impacted by story, the ability to command and sustain attention is the core challenge to all of us who seek to deliver information and impact others in positive ways. "Any Hollywood writer will tell you that attention is a scarce resource," he writes in "How Stories Change The Brain" on UC-Berkeley's Greater Good website. "Movies, TV shows, and books always include “hooks” that make you turn the page, stay on the channel through the commercial, or keep you in a theater seat. Scientists liken attention to a spotlight. We are only able to shine it on a narrow area. If that area seems less interesting than some other area, our attention wanders."
TheScientific American

Good Games For Great Relationships: Strengthening Interpersonal Communication Through Applied Improvisation

The games used to train improvisers are particularly effective for developing interpersonal skills, because of the unique challenges of improvisation: to create something in real time collaboration with others, having no script, no director, no rehearsal and no preplanning. Improvisers closely listen, observe, notice, and support one another. And through learning to read and respond to what our improv partners are expressing through play, we can cultivate skills that are essential for real life relationships. 
 The concept that play has serious learning value in American social-emotional development and education was originated by social service worker Neva Boyd, who was prominent in the first half of the 20th century and very involved with the playground and recreation movement.  In her essay The Theory Of Play she wrote that through games "children learn language skills, socialization, cooperation, and even morality, because all must agree on the rules and abide by them for a g…

Good Games Are Great For Growth: Why Improv Is Therapeutic

In his article "The Tao Of Improv" psychotherapist Robert Taibbi describes his introduction to improvisation at a particularly challenging period in his life."I had just finished emotionally marching through a some significant losses – the death of my father, then my first wife – the hospitalization of my daughter," he writes. "I was also bored with my job – lots of long-winded, stagnant community meetings, worries about the morale among my 40+ staff, sweating the quarterly budget review, and having little time for clinical work. I felt dazed, dull. Then one day I stumbled on a sign posted in a store window. A woman was offering improv classes, and to my own surprise, I called, and then actually showed up. The class was a good mix of men, women and backgrounds – a computer guy, an aikido instructor, a research biologist, a salesman, a musician, a poli-sci student – folks very different from my usual world." 
This very accurately describes what is distincti…

Workshop Handout - Strengthen Resilience Through Improvisation

"Words can introduce you to an idea,  but we think it takes an experience to transform you."  Alan Alda, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face

"We define resilience as 'the capacity to be resourceful and creative, to make choices, and to take effective action, no matter what is going on.'" Presence and Resilience

Resilient people share 3 common traits, according to research discussed in Harvard Business Review: 1) acceptance of reality; 2) deep belief that life is meaningful; 3) an uncanny ability to improvise. Training in improvisation is an engaging, imaginative way to power up all three of these traits. For therapists, educators and other professionals working with human development, the games and exercises that cultivate the skills for improvisation are remarkably effective tools. The "yes...and" principle at the heart of improvisation is built on acceptance of the reality created by others players or the director or group leader.…