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Mental Health Benefits of Improvisation Training: Games and Exercises

The games and exercises in the workshop Mental Health Benefits OfImprovisation Training are designed in the same way that improvisation warm-ups work for performers. They gradually enhance the sense of psychological safety in the group so that an unplanned, unpredictable social-emotional experience can be created in real time. By learning the skills improvisers use to tell stories together without a script, anyone can learn to be more adaptable, agile, creative and spontaneous on the stage of life. The games and exercises used in improvisation training are subtle and deceptively sophisticated ways to hijack the naturally-occurring “stranger danger” anxiety we feel in the face of the unfamiliar and lay down new pathways paved with distinct social-emotional memories, making them more available in real life stressful situations.
Learning to do this kind of thinking and behaving with other people in a controlled, supportive environment trains the brain to manage anxiety, uncertainty and ch…

Cultivate Creative Thinking Skills Through Applied Improvisation

Lifestage was proud to host Guy Nelson, author of Creative Thinking, Creative Play: Using Improvisational Games To Transform People, Classrooms and Organizations, an improviser with Unexpected Productions , musician and trainer as well as NPR journalist with WUOW in Seattle,as a guest facilitator on Friday May 11.He described improvisation as a "universal lubricant" applicable to every area of learning and growth. In this gathering of mental health and education professionals. the discussion focused on how the thinking skills learned through improvisation apply to the therapeutic and learning process. Here is a breakdown of the games and exercises Guy taught in this workshop. 
DANCE CAPTAIN WARM-UP
     An accomplished musician, Guy demonstrated the improvisation principle of "yes...and" and warmed up the group with a nonverbal dance exercise. Playing the guitar and singing an improvised piece, he provided the music for the exercise. Group members stood in a circle. …

Exploring The Growth Mindset Through Applied Improvisation

The “growth” mindset builds on the idea that we can choose our attitude toward change and about what it means to fail or succeed. And that if we believewe can learn something new or develop a skill set that is needed to realize a goal, we will be more likely to stick with the process until we have mastered it.  In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck writes that mind sets are powerful driver of perceptions about self and others as well as one’s capabilities and place in the world. “Mindsets frame the running account that’s taking place in peoples’ heads,” she states. “They guide the whole interpretation process.” Dr. Dweck’s work identifies 2 distinctly different mindsets that have the greatest implications to successful learning and change over the lifespan, the “Growth mindset” and the “Fixed mindset.”
The Fixed mindset holds that our intelligence, talent and ability to change are fixed, and there is nothing we can do to expand them. Becau…

In It Together: Social-Emotional Learning through Applied Improvisation workshop handout

Social-emotional events have a direct impact on our ability to receive, store and use new information. "Event memories are tied to specific emotionally or physically charged events (strong sensory input) because of the emotional intensity of the events to which they are linked," explains neurologist Judy Willis in Research-Based Strategies To Ignite Student Learning. "Because the 'dramatic event' powers its way through the neural pathways of the emotionally preactivated limbic system into memory storage, the associated hitch-hiking academic information gets pulled along with it. Recollection of the academic material occurs when the emotionally significant event comes to mind, unconsciously or consciously. To remember the lesson, students can cue up the dramatic event to which it is linked." 
Matthew Lieberman, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA whose book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, argues that our n…