Medical Improv: For Healing Trauma & Promoting the Quintessential Dimensions of Humanity!

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I’m reading a great book by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk, called, “The Body Keeps box467.bluehost-3the Score” and reviewed here by Applied Improv colleague, Kay Ross.

Much of his work centers around emotional trauma most notably PTSD among veterans and victims of child abuse.   As such there is much of his work that relates to human beings feeling safe and loved in the world and therefore his theories and research are quite helpful to healthcare professionals and patients on many levels.

In his book, he cites how our ‘brain-disease’ model [that emphasizes pharmaceutical interventions for symptoms of post traumatic stress] overlooks four fundamental truths:

  1. “Our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another.  Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being.
  2. Language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning.
  3. We have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching.
  4. We can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive.” (See page 38 in his paperback edition.)

Dr. Van Der Kolk continues on to explore causes, case stories and research re:  trauma and exploring new ideas for attending to these 4 “quintessential dimensions of humanity” in therapeutic ways.

Improvoscopy logo draft NO wordsThe activities and principles of improvisational theater are fundamentally in sync with shoring up humanity in such ways.  I believe that Medical Improv or Applied Improv (with expert facilitation) is an emerging practice that provides safe social experiences and as such is evolving as another modality that can help.

And the kind of help it can provide is not limited to severe trauma victims.  It can help us healthcare professionals develop our best selves and bring them into our relationships, teams, and organizations.  The potential rippling effect, since we are a diverse workforce and serve almost all of human diversity, is huge.

Activities & principles of improvisational theater are fundamental to shoring up humanity! Click To Tweet

In a recent Medline guestblog series I talk more about this and encourage you to check out these posts.

Healing Relationships for Healthcare Improvement

Part I-We Need an Overhaul!

Part II-What is Going On Between Us?

Part III-What is Neuroplasticity & How Can it Help?

I welcome your feedback and questions here or at Medline and look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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What are your thoughts?