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Showing posts from 2015

In The New Year, Tell A New Story - Applied Improvisation Will Give You The Tools

Telling a new story about ourselves, according to research published in the journalClinical
Psychological Science has powerful impact on health, well-being and the ability to put in the effort to make a dream become reality. This study showed a significant physical and psychological shift in adolescents after a single well-desiged experience demonstrating the concept that people can change. Read more about this in"The Mindset All Successful People Have In Common" on

The "growth mindset" is about a combination of skills and concepts that increases the capacity to learn and change, and evidence shows that it can cultivated through creative experiences. Researcher Carol Dweck, Phd, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Successreviews the best and worst outcomes of the implementation of programs based on her work in this commentary written for Education Week magazineShe examines important points and pitfalls of putting this research into action in the …

Applied Improvisation & Emotional Intelligence Workshop Hand-Out: Understanding The "State of Play"

In his article "Your Brain On Improv: Hacking Creativity" Dave Asprey of writes about the remarkable research done by Dr. Charles Lamb (click here for his TED talk "Your Brain On Improv") into what happens in the brain when musicians improvise, and how that information transfers to other improvisation and creative activity. "During improvisation, the self-monitoring part of the brain (lateral prefrontal for you brain hardware hackers out there) is deactivated, while the self-expression part of the brain got activated (medial prefrontal). Literally, that means that to be creative you have to stop picking on yourself while boosting your self-expression abilities."
   When we are able to reduce activity in the self-monitoring part of the brain we are more free to experiment and take risks, to respond creatively to unpredictable and unknowable interactions with others. Improvisation warm-ups games and exercises are designed to reduce the s…

Improvisers Are Awesome, Make The Most Out Of What Is and other take-aways from the 2015 Applied Improvisation Network Annual Conference

The 2015 Applied Improvisation Network Annual Conference 
started in the beautiful city of Montreal, then moved north to the mountains of Quebec. Here are some take-aways from this week of constant contact with creative people and Canadian culture:

1. In the mountans of Quebec, there is no wi-fi and very, very spotty cell service. Untethered to technology, one becomes aware of its power. A week without it felt similar to when I quit smoking, except technology connects me to a world beyond myself, and smoking connected me to a host of avoidable diseases. With neither wi-fi nor cell service, I was aware of a part of my brain that kept searching for them, until that craving was replaced by an indescribable openness to experience and a release from the need to know what would happen next.

2. When walking in Montreal with no agenda about what to do next and a determination to enjoy the present moment, sometimes you discover something special to think about (Rodin show at Montreal Museum of A…

Fun Facts About Comedy In Educational Settings: Studies Discussed in Episode 2 of (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast

Episode 2 of the (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast featured an interview and story by the hilarious and always-interesting comic Stevie GB, who took this "3 studies" quiz about research into the role of laughter in learning very, very seriously. He analyzed each one in a very thoughtful, as well as entertaining, way. Maybe its just fun to listen to him talk and to his mental process. You can hear the podcast by clicking on the link above, and then check out this interesting research about the very serious way that humor boosts learning, reduces anxiety and stress in the classroom, and encourages students to take initiative in their education.

One study pointing to humor's benefits appeared in College Teaching (Vo. 54, No. 1, pages 177-180).  This research showed that students were more likely to remember information shared in a statistics lecture when it was laced with relevant comedy. ""Well-planned, appropriate, contextual humor can help students ingrain informatio…

(mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast Episode 1: Research Studies

Thanks for listening to (mostly) TRUE THINGS the podcast and for following your curiosity about the research studies we discussed in that interview with Dr. Debbie Zelizer to this blog. Here are links to the studies we discussed in the "3 studies" portion of the interview. Happy reading! And please check Episode 2 to find out if Dr. Zelizer changed anything in the telling of her moving story about her favorite patient on the Stonybrook University Hospital /AIDS Unit.


"The benefits of storytelling include;
 • development of the skills required to follow a narrative thread, tolerating ambiguity and surrendering to the story;
• the adoption of multiple and contradictory points of view;
• an ability to enter the storytellers' reality and to understand how the story teller makes sense of that reality;
• to gain insight into the use of image and metaphor;
• to acknow…

Resiliency Is Hope With Muscle

Today a group of people from all over the country and Canada met at the Marriott Hotel a few blocks from the World Trade Center for a conference about resiliency. Here to discuss what it takes to get through the kind of suffering brought about by terrorist acts like those on Sept 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, D.C and in the shadow of the memorial created in their wake, were clinical social workers, creative arts therapists, psychiatrists, lawyers and others involved in ongoing work with the families of people lost that day. But there were also clinicians and researchers who are involved with military families, the atrocity at Sandy Hook elementary school, the Boston Marathon bombing, a terrorist bombing that happened in 1985 off the coast of Ireland, among others. Because the people who do this work stick together, and support one another, and that turns out to be one of the key elements of the resiliency they cultivate in survivors.
    There is a Zulu saying "a person is …

Music, Mind, Memory, My Mother and Oliver Sacks

Here is a list of books by Oliver Sacks that I have completed so far:
Awakenings. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. The Mind's Eye, Musicophilia, andso many New Yorker articles I cannot now recount them. I love him from so many different parts of myself. His detailed and generous narratives about the people he treated inspire and energize me as a health care professional and writer. As a music therapist, I am profoundly grateful for his remarkable research into the field and that he focused international attention on the findings that show its benefits - especially in treatment of neurological illnesses  - with his book Musicophilia. And as the daughter of a mother with dementia, his work has been instrumental in helping me understand, accept and manage my mother's cognitive decline. 
    As a music and creative arts therapist I worked in nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals using songs to reach beyond a person's deteriorated or diminished thinking minds and into th…