A weekend conference, “Theatre Improvisation for Clients and Therapists,” was held in Hartford, CT Oct. 19-20, 2019. 19 participants, an equal mix of Mental Health students and licensed professionals, took part in 9 experiential workshops from 6 presenters on a variety of improv applications to therapy. In addition to experiencing personally the challenges and opportunities of improv enactment, participants learned several techniques useful to their clinical practice!
Daniel J. Wiener, Ph.D., LMFT, RDT-BCT
Professor Emeritus, Central Connecticut State University; licensed psychologist, Diplomate in Family Psychology and AAMFT Approved Supervisor. He founded Rehearsals! for GrowthTM in 1984 and has trained over 2000 therapists in nine countries. [DW]
Charlotte A. Ramseur, LMFT
AAMFT Approved Supervisor; RfG Certified Trainer; Adjunct Professor in MFT at Central Connecticut State University. Trained in both Accelerated Resolution Therapy and Internal Family Systems, she has a private
psychotherapy practice in New Britain, CT. [CR]
Maureen Sand, LMFT
RfG Certified Trainer. She is an MFT therapist at the Klingberg Extended Day Treatment Program in New Britain, Conn. and specializes in working clinically with children and their families. [MS]
Jami Osborne, LMHC, MaCCS, RDT/BCT
RfG Certified Trainer; AMHCA Diplomate: Specialist in Trauma Counseling. She has a private psychotherapy practice and provides Contract Supervision in Norwood, MA. [JO]
Laura Langston, PhD, LMFT, RPT
Specialist in Developmental Trauma; she is the Founder/Owner of TouchPoints, LLC, a Center for Individual, Child & Family Therapy in Cheshire, CT. [LL]
Margot Escott, MSW, LCSW: Owner of Improv4Wellness; teaches improv to diverse populations, from ASD to Parkinson’s Disease. She has a private practice in Naples, FL for 35 years and is a licensed supervisor. [ME]
Saturday, October 19, 2019
9:00 – 9:30 Registration.
9:30 – 10:00 Welcome; Orientation; Warmup Games. (Dan Wiener, Charlotte Ramseur, Mo Sand, Margot Escott)
10:00 – 11:00 Workshop A: “Who’s Ready to Play?” (Dan Wiener)
How do we know if/when clients are sufficiently “warmed-up” to accept the RfG therapist’s offer to play? How do we therapists encourage clients to attempt progressively more elaborate or challenging enactments? How do we therapists ‘check out’ our own willingness/readiness to engage in playful interaction? All three interrelated questions will be addressed through interactive demonstrations.
11:00 – 11:15 [BREAK]
11:15 – 12:45 Workshop B: “A Clinician’s Guide to Improv when Working with Individuals.” (Jami Osborne)
Though RfG was developed to work therapeutically with relationships, improv can also be used with individuals. Using both case examples and role-play, the presenter will demonstrate how the magic of evoking the Playspace allows improv games to be enacted by individual clients!
2:45 – 1:45 (working LUNCH ) PANEL: “Improv Training for Therapists: Personal Benefits and Therapeutic Effectiveness.” (Dan Wiener, Margot Escott, Jami Osborne):
Recent research corroborates the anecdotal evidence from RfG training over the past 27 years, namely that improv training benefits therapists in numerous ways. In this presentation, panelists will discuss these benefits and illustrate them by examples.
1:45 – 3:15 Workshop C: “RfG and Children – Playing with a Purpose.” (Mo Sand)
In this experiential workshop, the presenter will demonstrate how to utilize RfG in a group therapy format for children. Included in the presentation will be the clinical rationale for choosing particular RfG games and exercises, and how to structure the group to maximize fun, safety, and clinical benefit.
3:15 – 3:30 [BREAK]
3:30 – 5:00 Workshop D: “Playful Family Interventions that Work with Kids coming from Hard Places.”(Laura Langston)
Conventional, talk-only Family Therapy often fails when the family presents with dysregulated children.
Using a variety of play, movement and art activities, the presenter will demonstrate tactics to tackle several impasses that arise in work with these families.
5:00 – 5:30: Closing remarks and group games. (Dan Wiener, Charlotte Ramseur, Jami Osborne, Mo Sand, Margot Escott)
5:30 – 8:00: [Dinner (on the town)]
8:00 – 10:00: OPTIONAL BONUS: Improv Performance Playshop/Jam: (To be Announced)
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
9:15 – 9:30 Stretching and Warmups (all Presenters)
9:30-11:00 Workshop E: “Improv for Neuromuscular Disease Patients & their Care Partners.” (Margot Escott)
For the past two years, the presenter has run classes featuring Improvisational Theatre Games for people with neuromuscular diseases (Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS) and their care partners. In these lively classes, participants get to express themselves non-verbally through movement and music activities, thereby connecting with each other. Additionally, these games aid in cognition, motor and memory skills. This workshop will demonstrate Games that are successfully modified for use with this population and offers practical advice on running such groups.
11:00 – 11:15 [BREAK]
11:15 – 12:45 Workshop F: “Staging Improv Scenes in Sexual Harassment Training.” (Charlotte Ramseur)
A difficulty encountered in conducting Sexual Harassment Training that utilizes realistic simulations is that participants in all roles are apt to become emotionally triggered. An advantage of Improv enactments is that they involve the “honest pretense” of role-playing that can explore socially undesirable behaviors in a less consequential way for the role-players. The presenter draws upon her experience presenting in both clinical and corporate training settings on this topic.
12:45 – 1:45 (Working LUNCH) Table Discussions: Bring your lunch and sit in on one of our informal discussion tables, where the topics will be (or at least, “start out as”) the following:
(a) “Getting Started, Keeping Growing”: Sharing encouragement and practical advice on applying and integrating RfG into your practice.
(b) “‘Selling’ Action Therapy to Colleagues, Supervisors and Administrators”:
Sharing suggestions for explaining what you’re doing, and why, to skeptical or fearful, talk-only-oriented Agency personnel. (c) “ Learning from our Best and Worst RfG Experiences”: Using RfG seems to produce a disproportionate share of both “Peak” and “Valley” experiences! We’ll swap tales of both kinds, including what we learned in the process.
1:45 – 3:15 Workshop G: “Consultation and Training in Post-Enactment Processing” (Dan Wiener)
Following the role-play of an RfG enactment by a pair of participants, the other participants, taking the role of a panel of therapists, will conduct Post-Enactment Processing (PEP). Dr. Wiener will comment and offer additional observations and alternative questions.
NOTE: This workshop is REQUIRED FOR RfG Certificate Program participants at the Intermediate Level.
3:15 – 3:30 [BREAK]
3:30 – 5:00 Workshop H :”RfG Techniques: So Many Choices, So Little Time!” (Dan Wiener)
Less-experienced RfG therapists are frequently uncertain as to which of the many RfG techniques are most helpful at any given moment during therapy. Through role-play, we will demonstrate how to assess clinical situations in order to make appropriate selections.
5:00 – 5:30 Sharing & Closing Ceremony (all participants & Presenters)