Teens are in a process of continuous emergence, their “right now” an ongoing story that is like an improvisation in that they are building a bridge to their future while walking on it. Because the teen brain is being rewired, and their sense of self as well as view of the world is taking shape, it is a time of great opportunity to develop talents and pursue interests, and of great risk if chronic stress, trauma, loss or other negative conditions are present. Wants, needs, impulses and emotions are heightened at the same time the reasoning part of the brain…


There is an improv game called Search Party, in which each player is impacted by a request. Player 1 initiates a scene by making a specific request to another player, and in that initiation identifying who the characters are to one another, e.g.

Player 1: “Dad, I don’t have a nice suit to wear to prom. I’m hoping you can help me get one somehow.”
Player 2: Yes, of course! First I have to make a call (or check something out, etc).”
Player 3 joins “Dad,” who has to assign a role to this new character and ask them…


A new documentary called Cher And The Loneliest Elephant that premiered this week on the streaming service Paramount+ captures the best and the worst of humanity. The worst: cruelty and neglect of an elephant named Kavaan who lived alone, shackled, in a small space for over 20 years. The best: an enormous collaborative effort to free and transport this massive animal across the entire continent of Asia. And, of course, Cher. Cher makes everything better.

The timing of this story coming to our tablets, phones and laptops could not be better. Like this suffering elephant, we have all been struggling…


Its a Sunday night about 9:30 pm in early June of 2020. A certain grim acceptance that the pandemic is not going to end soon has given rise to an underlying current of anxiety in my body and household. Suddenly my husband and I are bolted from our TV-watching comfort coma by a blast from both our phones that a tornado has been spotted in the area. Not a tornado “watch.” A “get in the basement now” warning. My stomach drops as I stare at the phone in disbelief, my fight-flight-freeze instinct stopped at freeze. My husband is all “fight.”…


As we step into the larger world after a challenging year of change imposed on us by rapidly shifting social realities, we have all been improvisers on the stage of life for many months, innovating solutions to problems on the fly and crafting our days without the familiar structures. As dark and difficult as these days have been, being forced to do things in an entirely new way can lead to sometimes startling discoveries. This is something we can train ourselves to look for, a practice for which improv training is uniquely powerful. Research shows that the philosophy and creative…


An article in the Nov. 22 New York Times titled “Abandon Your Thanksgiving Script” opens with the line “”This is the year for an improvised Thanksgiving.” It is a helpful read for many reasons, mainly because we all may need some encouragement to keep doing what is necessary to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We have to think and behave in new ways to manage an entirely new situation, and this can collide with our desire for the holiday rituals and familiarity that provide psychological comfort and happiness. …


When Helena Lewis performs her poems and monologues in solo shows, populated by characters inspired by real people she encounters in her work as a Doctor of Social Work and Licensed Certified Addictions Counselor, the audience has an inside view of realities they might otherwise never confront. In her award-winning show Call Me Crazy: Diary Of A Mad Social Worker she tells the truth about systems that underpay and overwork professionals who provide essential human services. In Shenanigans, she explores grief, death and loss through the lens of her mother’s death and the ways it reshaped her family. Her most…


When a friend — I’ll call her Marilyn — asked for my “best psychotherapist take” on how to tell her 9-year old daughter they could not keep the stray kitten they’d discovered in a ditch near their home, I was ready with offers born of many years of experience on topics like this. Not a good time for the family to add a new member, or incur the expenses of a pet? An opportunity to teach a child about boundaries and limits in life. Worried the child will not do her part to care for the kitten? Consider this an…


What the country, and the world, is going through right now is shaking up our social life and sense of safety along with our assumptions and expectations. As the pandemic stretches on over time, there is a growing sense of uncertainty, and for many a sense of dread and exhaustion. In this fluid and dynamic situation, we are unable to predict too far into the future. At the same time, we are naturally concerned about what direction our lives will take. We like to know ahead of time if our efforts are going to pay off. …


There is a kind of magic that happens when improvisers co-create an imagined reality so seamlessly it seems hard to believe it is happening on the spot. Players achieve this by agreeing to a set of practices — radical acceptance of what others offer, unwavering support of one another, emotional engagement as the gateway to rational story-making, elevating others’ ideas, to name a few — that are uniquely effective ways to get on the same page with other people not only in the creative space of an improv scene but in real-life human interactions. And in this cultural moment, as…

judetrederwolff

LCSW, CGP, MT & Certified Practitioner of Applied Improvisation, consultant/trainer and writer/performer. www.lifestage.org, www.mostlytruethings.com

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