|Nick Wolff, LCSW, BCD, TEP|
1) Researchers, academics and policy-makers tend to have very little exposure to experiential/action methods - and trainers in these methods need to reach out to them far more than we do;
2) When reaching out to researchers, academics, and policy-makers, be sure to include Power Point.
The format of this workshop included carefully-designed improvisation and warm-up exercises, alternating with 5-7 minutes of Power Point that explained why these experiences were chosen and the research that supports their value, as well as writing in a journal provided with the workshop materials. While participants were encouraged to share verbally, they were free to confine the expression of their thoughts and feelings to writing in the journal and to continue with that practice going forward in their professional lives.
The exercises were simple and highly-focused on making specific points, to honor the academic nature of the group and at the same time demonstrate the power of experience to produce cognitive shifts. An example:
We asked participants to write in the journal for 3-4 minutes about what they expected an experiential exercise to be like, to review and record their assumptions. Participants were then instructed to walk freely around the workshop space and avoid make any eye contact with anyone else – to look at anything and everything except the other people – for 30 seconds. This was followed by 30 seconds of walking about the workshop space while making eye contact – but not interact with - everyone in the group at least twice. This was followed by 30 seconds of 1-word interactions with everyone while making eye contact.
- What were you aware of within yourself during the 30 seconds of avoiding eye contact?
- What were you aware of within yourself during the 30 seconds of seeking eye contact without words?
- How did the 1-word-rule influence your experience and/or behavior?
- What was it like to use a word to interact with others?
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