How bringing your inner child on the stage makes you a better adult – applied improvisation theatre in clinical settings to prompt healthy modes
Co-Presented with Nicole Haubitz & Martin Esters
In Schematherapy we usually try to challenge the inner critic voices of the patient by highlighting its self-destructive nature, but often adversely face the patient clinging onto the critic modes while demonstrating fear to loose control and furthermore lacking openness and flexibility to try out new and more adaptive behavior. Hence supporting the patients basic need for spontaneity and play is enhancing their capacity to tolerate feelings of discomfort while giving up the feeling of control associated with staying in their old pattern. Improvisation theatre is a multi-functional method to enable the patient to experience healthy modes behavior through “as-if-games” whilst evoking joyfulness as a benefit same time. Basic mindfulness principles that are needed in building up the healty adult modes are also learnt in a playful manner: cognitive flexibility and impulse control are enhancing the autoexecutive functioning, Letting go of judgement and expectations are enhancing the tolerance for frustration and mistakes (which is antagonistic to the inner critic). But also the social and emotional competencies needed for healthy adult behavor in social interactions are trained: being mindful of others whilst being present within oneself enable feelings of cohesiveness and coherence in the patient, subsequently generating self-efficacy and fulfilling the basic need of coherent self. A more contemporary (but not limited to) beneﬁt is the training of an „adaptive mindset“: Patients nowadays feel more and more threatened by a quickly changing world around them both on a personal as well as a geopolitical level. Dealing with this so called “VUCA”-world (VUCA: Our world becomes increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) or “BANI”-world (BANI: We perceive our surroundings as increasingly Brittle, inducing Anxiety, Non-linear and Incomprehensible) often activates vulnerable child modes as well as maladaptive coping modes. An “improv-mindset” can help to cope with seemingly overwhelming surroundings by developing and strengthening an healthy adult or healthy parent attitude towards uncertainty, complexity and perceived loss of control.