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Improvisation Group: Improv for Stress-Resilience, Self-Awareness and Creative Thinking

WHEN: MONDAYS, BI-WEEKLY, 7-9 P.M.  Sept. 12; Sept. 26, Oct. 10, Oct. 24, Nov. 7
WHERE: LIFESTAGE, INC, 496 Smithtown Bypass  Suite 202  Smithtown NY 11787
Fee: $20/session - Payable onsite before each session or online at smarttix

"If the future is uncertain, best learn how to improvise. Find out how by looking at how actors and jazz musicians do it." Mary Crossan, Organizational Dynamics

  The improviser’s mind and skill set is something anyone can learn, practice and use to be more effective, adaptive, and creative in response to problems, and it is the best antidote to professional burn-out. Research shows that improvisation in theater or music grow the psychological “muscles” that improve our resilience to the stresses of modern life, and are a training ground for dealing with uncertainty and the tensions of change that are all around us these days.

We can’t control the economy, the jobs report, what’s happening in the news, or loads of other distressing things that impact us every day. We have responsibilities and worries and pressures that are not going away. Today’s stresses come in from every direction, but are just as often mental habits such as performance anxiety, fears about money and security, worries about how we are doing as a parent or partner, or any number of emotional triggers that signal a sense of threat. What goes on in our head evokes the same physiological response as what happens when running from a moving train. And when these threats do not abate—after all, the call is coming from inside the house— we lose the energy we need to cope - much less create - and over time get burned out.
In these workshops we will:

• Learn how to reduce stress and expand choices through cognitive reframing;

• Develop the ability to size up situations rapidly and respond effectively;

• Understand the principles of the improviser's mind set;

• Co-create stories and scenes with other people and examine the ways that real-time creative experience changes perceptions and builds confidence;

Living in the networked world has all the features of an experiment – an improvisation - in that we are thinking up new social foundations at the same time we are trying them out. Like actors with neither scripts nor direction who discover the story they are telling at the same time they are performing it, we are improvising our responses to the pressures and opportunities of life in this crazy, brave, new world by interacting with them. Unlike a scripted piece of theater, in improvisation the interactions advance the story, just as the very nature of complex systems in the culture –economic, educational, social systems among others - means that interactions are driving the consequences. But the time between action and result grows shorter as technology engineers yet another bypass around the old structures, and the space between choice and consequence gets smaller.  This makes places high value on the ability to learn, adapt and think creatively.
     "Guy Claxton, author of the book Live and Learn: An Introduction To The Psychology of Growth and Change In Everyday Life noted that one of the biggest barriers to learning is our resistance to let go of the 4C’s – the desire to be consistent, comfortable, competent and confident," write Mary Crossan et al in The Ivey Business Journal. Urging business leaders to learn about and train their people in the principles of improvisation, these researchers propose that "we add a fifth to the list – the desire for control. Protecting and preserving these five C’s is a huge barrier to individual growth and development." 

     Improvisation takes these on with "4 Cs" of its own:
  • Commitment
  • Creativity
  • Cognitive Shifts
  • Collaboration
 The improviser's mind set is developed by engaging in a creative process with other people, trying new things based on mutual agreement, and then reflecting on the experience to stabilize the cognitive shifts that have taken place. Because the uncertainty and tensions of change are also core aspects of the creative process, the improviser's mind and skill set is a powerful approach to engagement with the tensions of the unknown and unpredictable. 
     The psychological set-point of the improviser is readiness. In life and in art, this readiness is a form of power, wielded through full-throttle engagement with the present moment that shoves aside the mental agonies and preoccupations over what will happen next and how we will get through the problems we face. It is an ongoing commitment to self-responsibility and collaboration with others. And in that commitment lies freedom from the need to control and the limiting perspective that blocks awareness of possible new directions our energy can take.

These methods can revolutionize learning in a therapy group or classroom. They bring information to life and immediately connect it to experience. And experience makes learning stick.
Attend as many workshops as you like. But repeated experiences produce deeper, faster results so we encourage you to attend as many as you can.

Call Jude Treder-Wolff at 631-366-4265 for more information. Register online at 


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