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Improv: 10 Benefits for Self-Improvement

Drama therapy uses play, embodiment, projection, role, story, metaphor, performance, and improv to help you grow, overcome hurts or traumas, excel, acquire desired skills and finding a deeper sense of self and happiness, depending on your goals and needs.

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Improv Dram Therapy

Drama Therapy

Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

Drama therapy uses play, embodiment, projection, role, story, metaphor, performance, and improv to help you grow, overcome hurts or traumas, excel, acquire desired skills and finding a deeper sense of self and happiness, depending on your goals and needs.

Improv Therapy

Improv, theatre games, storytelling, and enactment are a few of the techniques used in drama.

Acting students join my classes to improve their performing skills. In the process, they discover newfound confidence and freer more relaxed selves.

Meanwhile, I am bombarded, with possibilities, ideas and infinite ways of expressing creativity. It’s magic.

Improv is best consumed in the here and now. There is no much to talk about or write about compared to what you can experience in the act. Improv enriches the therapeutic creative processes in acting.

The benefits are not only, use for healing in extreme situations such recovering from addiction, being a part of a dysfunctional family, being a disabled person, an abuse survivor, a prison inmate, a homeless, an AIDS patient, a patient with behavioural health issues, a young person at risk. Improv can be amazing training for entrepreneurs or anyone wanting to excel in their life and enjoy fulfilling relationships and a greater sense of meaning.

Improv is helpful for individuals, families and communities alike. For people struggling with transition, social stigmatization, isolation, conflict or loss and for people seeking growth and self-development.

Credit: Unsplash

Improv can add powerful and permanent boosts of confidence and belief in self. It can make you unstoppable in terms of having an incessant natural flow of ideas and creativity.

Improv and drama therapy as a whole aid in treating and preventing anxiety, depression, and addiction as it promotes positive mood changes, deep insight, empathy, joy, a sense of freedom and healthy relationships.

Any performing arts discipline serves as a great therapy. However, the practice of Improv is my favourite due to the fast results I’ve witnessed and personally experienced and the amazing changes I’ve seen in practitioners who suddenly bring out extraordinary aspects of themselves which were until then hidden and unknown.

The fun of it; the sheer liberation space within and in the outside is worthy.

With Improv you can be sure to experience psychological, emotional and social change. The reason why drama therapy is powerful and effective is that it allows you to explore, challenging, difficult and painful life experiences indirectly.

Best Practices

  • It’s is important to focus on the process of creation and not on the outcome of your performance.
  • Allowing shyness, fear or uneasiness, to become fuel for your performances instead of treating these as obstacles will enhance your results.
  • You have persimmon to “fail” miserably as many times as you like and enjoy it. Try things out with no judgement.

Why is it so beneficial even if you are not using it to recover from trauma?

Improv practice can be an antidote to the “asynchronous” world we live in. The extensive use of text messaging and social media for communication can negatively affect our ability to relate to people in-the-moment.

With Improv we learn to soften our focus and heighten our awareness, in that way we respond better to surprises, challenges or difficult situations.

Practising improv makes you a more patient listener who takes their time to respond instead of rushing your side of the conversation. As a result, you are more present with your friends, family and work colleagues, perhaps in ways that you have never experienced before.

Roleplay can alter the way we think. As you take different roles the activity in your brain changes. When actors are answering questions in-character, with different accents, for instance, their brains respond differently to what they do when they are being themselves.

In a study, scientists confirmed that, acting “modulated processes related to attention, perspective taking and embodiment.” Acting “produces global reductions in brain activity and, particularly, deactivations in the cortical midline network of the frontal lobe, including the dorsomedial and ventromedial prefrontal cortices.”

Credit: Unsplash

Acting Warm-up Improv Exercise

Performance Duration: 3- 7 Minutes

Word Game Monologue: Start with a random word, continue with a monologue deriving from that word.

In a Group:

Each participating actor contributes to the first word that comes to mind when they hear the previous word.

Improv Exercise

Picture your character in a dream. His/her dream. He/She is in a remote unknown place with a group of strangers. Visualise the place then the people. Improvise a monologue or a scene.

In a Group: the Same setting as above. Each participant wakes up from the dream in turns and the begin to interact with the others.

Credit:Unsplash

Improv: Top 10 Benefits

1. Increased Confidence.

Working with no judgement. Freedom. Imagination. Being allowed to “fail” as much as you need to while enjoying yourself. Getting on your feet and doing whatever comes to mind from a different person’s point of view. Acting is liberating. Pushing yourself in situations where you might feel vulnerable or challenged or dread and seeing yourself overcoming those moments, arriving at the other side of fear, happy, satisfied and even proud. All this does wonders to your sense of self-empowerment and it greatly increases your confidence.

2. Improved Public Speaking Skills.

The main public speaking skills include confidence, friendliness, enthusiasm, energy. Voice control: tone, pitch, volume. Body language, being able to stand naturally and relaxed, being aware of your facial expressions. Delivery: speaking slowly, pausing, clearly articulated and pronounced words. Varying your pitch. Being aware of the reactions and responses of your audience. You learn and practice all this in Improv.

3. Enhanced Acting Abilities.

Improv is at the core of Acting you are learning to engage your imagination and build a character through improvising their life. Your characters past, untold or written stories.

4. Gained Comfort in Social Settings.

You build an inventory of reactions. You can start conversations with ease. You are not self-conscious anymore as you are used to improvising.

5. Refined Brainstorming Abilities.

With Improv you are in for an optimal brain workoutImprov requires fast thinking, building upon ideas and playing to the top of your game intelligence wise.

6. Improved Listening and Observation Skills.

Empathy is instantly gained in acting Improv is perfect for collaboration settings. The best improv is about teamwork, with practice it can become a perfect collaboration game packed with synchronicity.

7. Enhanced Creative-Thinking Abilities.

In the search of the character and their truth Actors reach within themselves to find the material they sometimes didn’t know they had. Acting is not about faking or pretending but it is in fact about truth.

The craft enables you to shift your perspective.

In improv, there are no wrong answers. Every idea is valid.

8. Improved Decision-Making Skills.

Improv helps you make decisions with conviction.

When improvising on stage you have to make choices for your character and carry them out. You can’t pause, cut or erase you need to act and flow.

9. Team Development Skills. Self Intelligence.

You learn to enjoy laughing at yourself. Focus is important but the pressure we experience in the workplace to keep up a perfect appearance, and being “serious” can be detrimental to performance, teamwork, and mental health.

10. Self-acceptance. Relaxing and Releasing tension.

Improv games are the best vehicle to relax and feel at ease. Fear and anxiety hold us back from reaching our full potential. The best way to banish fear is to repeatedly lean into it at the edge of your comfort zone and train your brain to relax into it through its gradual exposure.


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