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"I don't pretend to understand the universe...it is a great deal bigger than I am." Thomas Carlyle

Lives In Progress explores creative, innovative ideas for navigating the networked economy and the intersection of mind,body,soul and society.

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Improvisation Games & Exercises For Developing Emotional Intelligence

Since September Lifestage has been offering a monthly training workshop exploring the use of improvisation to develop Emotional Intelligence. These workshops have been geared toward the work done by clinicians, educators and trainers who guide the process of personal change or professional development, but as it turns out we have enjoyed some interesting diversity among the participants -  managers, business owners with both employees and customers, community activists, and performers. 
    Below is a collection of the exercises we have used in the workshops, accompanied by some studies that supports their use. 


Why Improvisation?
Improvisation is a powerful way to become aware of mental habits and patterns. Reflecting on our inner experiences after engaging in an improvisation exercise provides an opportunity to decide whether our mental habits are effective and useful or self-limiting and obsolete. The tensions of the creative process and this kind of interpersonal interaction are a fa…

WARM-UP EXERCISES FOR GROUP WORK - For Therapeutic, Educational or Training Groups

Nicholas Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP, Director of Training at Lifestage, Inc and Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP, Trainer/consultant and writer/performer. Follow on twitter @JuTrWolff


   “To begin assembly one must have the right attitude,” goes a Japanese instruction for assembling a particular object, as quoted in Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance. The "right attitude" is one that best serves the action we are preparing to engage in, just as an athlete warms up his/her muscles before using them in the stress of a work-out or game. Psychological and emotional "muscles" that are properly warmed up will perform more effectively and make it less likely that we will experience strain or allow fear to produce a shut-out when things get rolling.
    The right warm-up makes everything learned in a training situation or classroom more accessible and immediately useful to the trainee/student. New skills and knowledge - in education, personal growth or a professional train…

What Hope Looks Like: How Teens Benefit From Improvisation Training

On day #1 of a week-long teen bereavement camp, our group work had a singular goal: get the kids to come back for day #2. Most were pressured by a family member or therapist to give the camp a fair try but after that it was up to us. Issues of loss combined with the relentless honesty with which teens will respond to anything counseling-related added to the degree of difficulty. But they did come back, because the radical engagement possible through Applied Improvisation transformed 14 anxious, highly self-protective strangers into an emotionally-connected group in just a few hours. In high-pressure therapeutic environments like this camp, as in psychotherapy or school counseling settings, the connectivity and creativity that power improvisation are an ideal match for adolescents' developmental needs. We can see the results of using these methods in the way the kids bond and build one another up, and in their feedback long after groups are over. And it helps that there is also sci…