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Serious Play: Improvisation in Clinical Practice

  • Thursday, March 09, 2017
  • 9:00 AM - 12:15 PM
  • Forrest Hills of DC (Inclusive Senior Living) 4901 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20008
  • 38


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Type of Event: Continuing Education

Category: Cat 1 | CE Credit Hours: 3.0


Workshop participants will engage in playful, fun, improvisational games and activities that heighten self-discovery and provide enhanced understanding of the underlying processes, thoughts and beliefs related to client social and performance anxiety and strategies to overcome it.

The workshop will provide experiences designed to illustrate and illicit various aspects of self-discovery; anxiety-related thoughts and beliefs that inhibit spontaneity, performance, authenticity, and creativity; how collaboration, relationship and partnership (and isolation) influence anxiety and performance; ways that posture and physical movement influence and can be used to shift moods and attitudes; and, ways to use the practice of play to decrease anxiety and increase presence in the moment.


  • Learn improvisational acting techniques can help identify and shift feeling states
  • Gain increased self-knowledge that can positively influence client work and empathy
  • Explore and understand barriers we (and our clients) experience to intimacy, authenticity and spontaneity
  • Identify specific thoughts and beliefs linked to social and performance anxiety


I. Introductions and statement of goals/objectives/reason for interest in workshop, establishment of ground rules/sense of safety.

II. Anxiety in the Social Context

  • Fun, energizing activities with a focus on the following skills and concepts:
  • Whole presence vs. Distracted presence and the impact on anxiety
  • Emotional responses, beliefs and thoughts linked to “making a mistake” and how this is handled as a group vs. an individual
  • Vulnerability when alone vs. in connection/group
  • Levels of anxiety associated with anonymous creativity/vulnerability, support, trust

III. Emotional Awareness

Two prolonged exercises focused on the connection between mind and body, particularly focusing on the relationship between posture, speed and type of movement, physical rigidity or fluidity and feelings of social connection or isolation, mood, thoughts, and imagination.

These will be followed by processing and debrief focused on self-discovery as well as clinical implications.

IV. Relational

  • Exercises focused on the power of group mind and spontaneity, as well as aspects of imagination that arise in collaboration that are not present in isolation. Anxiety and emotions connected to collaboration vs. independence will be experienced and explored.
  • These will be followed by processing and debrief focused on self-discovery as well as clinical implications.
  • Anxiety Regulation and Management
  • Exercises will focus more on performance and require an increasing amount of exposure to anxiety-provoking elements of spontaneity and play. Influence of support and trust of others vs. emphasis on self and performance in engaging in these activities will be experienced and explored.
  • Additionally, exercises will highlight the ability of listening or presence in the moment to serve as an antidote to anxiety.
  • These will be followed by processing and debrief focused on self-discovery as well as clinical implications.

V. Wrap-up, final processing and closing


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