|Workshop design and hand-out by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, CGP, MT|
More than anything, the improviser's mind set is a way of reframing risk and the experience of mistakes and failures. If we can manage the emotions and thinking that come up when things go badly, we can manage creative risks and use mistakes and failures to grow, innovate and make progress. The Improviser's mind set is an emotional and psychological state that provides a way through the uncertainties of all the risks we face and a skill set for piloting through stressful circumstances without being derailed by them.
The improviser's mindset is a combination of these elements of interaction:
- Readiness - engagement with the action and interaction, taking in what is going on around us with a willingness to contribute in ways that move things forward;
- Relationship - exploring connections between things, ideas, and people is the heart of improvisation;
- Receptivity - relating to people and events with "yes..and," with openness to what is happening moment to moment drives improvisation;
- Responsiveness - receiving what others bring to a game, exercise or scene without judgment and building on it is the action of improvising;
- Risk - allowing what others say and do in a game, exercise or scene to impact us and participating in ways that may take us beyond what is expected or comfortable is the spirit of improvisation;
Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Developing Mind, The Healing Power Of Emotion and many other books related to this field of knowledge, describes the central principles of Interpersonal Neurobiology as:
- We are who we are, as we are, in relation to one another.
- The mind is a relational process that essentially regulates the flow of energy, hence, the "interpersonal" of interpersonal neurobiology.
- Identity is not contained so much within an individual, but between individuals.
- Through interaction and impacting one another we contribute to one anothers' development.
Get out of analytic mindset
Focus on partnership through nonverbal connection
Promote a sense of play and a playful approach to new experience
Pass the movement
- To trust that things will happen when you're not pushing/driving;
- Connect through nonverbal activity;
- Experience relating to others through nonverbal activity;
- Strengthen skills in observing subtle shifts and changes in others' movement and behavior;
- To strengthen skills in observing and attending to others;
- To explore intuitive awareness of others;
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS: For the clinician this game is a way to fine-tune intuitive sensing. It can take many tries to discern the leader of a round in this game when a group is very attuned to one another. In a psychotherapy or personal growth group this is an effective exercise for cultivating the nonverbal positive connection within a group, which Interpersonal Neurobiology shows can be a healing force for everyone involved.
- Increase spontaneity;
- Produce mind/body dissonance* which disrupts habitual thinking;
- Play with breaking out of cognitive patterns;
- Experience a game that is difficult and look at "failure" differently as a result;
What Are You Feeling?
- Let go of control and truly collaborate with a team;
- Practice mind/body dissonance and pilot through the discomfort by having fun;
- Listen to others' contributions and build on them to move the interaction along;
CLINICAL APPLICATION: This exercise is a way of making the invisible visible - the invisible but very real constraints people feel on their choices, and their ability to move ahead in their lives. By playing with the idea of being restricted and having only the power to speak we can explore what its like to feel controlled by relationships, social forces, responsibilities or a way of thinking. In the same way, the "controllers" who had no power to speak but could move the "action figures'" were constrained by the rules of the game and perhaps by the interaction that was unfolding. It is a playful way to initiate discussion about where we have or do not have control, what that feels like and what can be done to gain a greater sense of control over one's progress in life.
- Discover different perceptions of the same thing:
- Explore possible explanations or approaches to the same problem;
- Collaborate with a partner;
Tolstoy's 3 Questions - a reading of a play adapted from the short story. Read the original short story here.
Resources about Interpersonal Neurobiology and its implications for psychotherapy, education, and any kind of group work as well as relationships in general:
"An Interpersonal Neurobiology Approach to Psychotherapy: Awareness, Mirror Neurons, and Neural Plasticity in the Development of Well-Being," Dr. Dan Siegel, Psychiatric Annals, 2006
"What I Learned From Jad Abumrad About The Secrets of Creative Risk-Taking
Ten Steps To Celebrate Failure Through Design Thinking
Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, CGP, MT is a consultant/trainer and writer/performer. She is President of Lifestage, Inc which designs and facilitates experiential training for professionals, organizations, agencies and conferences, and host/creator of (mostly) TRUE THINGS, a monthly storytelling show on Long Island that features true stories - with a twist. Follow her on Twitter.