Archive for the 'Theater' Category

Can imagination and acting help reverse the symptoms of aging?

If “age is nothing but a mind-set”, might imagination and acting help reverse symptoms of aging?

The work of maverick Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, whose life’s work has demonstrated the power of expectations and assumptions in determining behavior and health was the subject of a Oct. 22, 2014 New York Times article entitled, “What if Age is Nothing but a Mind-Set?”

Langer has experimented with putting older adults in a physical time warp – creating a literal set from a time when they were younger and more vibrant, and asking them to act that age for five days to a week.  The result?  Improvements in such areas as suppleness, dexterity, posture, balance, mobility, and eyesight.

Similarly, in a study published in Psychological Science, Langer found that individuals asked to suit up and act like Air Force pilots in a flight simulator performed 40% better on a subsequent eyesight test than the control group that was asked to pretend to fly in a “broken” simulator.

Langer is now working with stage 4 cancer patients in a milieu designed to take them back to a healthier time past, using the arts and other activities to create a different mind-set.

Langer is famous for her study of the effect of plants in a nursing home.  Residents who were told that they were responsible for the care and well-being of the plants and were given jurisdiction over their schedules were twice as likely to survive than those who were told that the staff would take care of the plants and that they had no choice about their daily schedules.

In a study of diabetics, Langer found blood glucose levels to rise and fall according to perceived time rather than actual time.

Acting “as if “ may change what we actually believe about ourselves.  And that change in mind-set affects our biology.

Click here to read the whole fascinating article, which also addresses the positive effects of the placebo – even when people know they are taking one – and the dangers of the nocebo, such as being diagnosed with an illness.   Langer is gathering evidence that we can also will ourselves to illness, as we can to vitality.

UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference 2014: Creative Arts Therapies Panel

Click here to view the creative arts therapies panel.

Integrative Medicine in the Community through the Creative Arts Therapies:  Experiential Panel Presentations on Creative Arts Therapies at the UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference – March 1, 2014

The creative arts therapies offer accessible, nonverbal and universal tools for facilitating emotional and physical health through a focus on the process of expression, rather than performance or product. The creative arts therapies can offer a humanizing complement to increasingly technological medical care, that can enhance the environment of medicine and address the increasing societal health care burden from chronic diseases rooted in emotions and behavior.

A panel of clinician/scholars from four creative arts therapy disciplines (art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy) demonstrate how and why the creative arts therapies are so effective as an integrative medicine discipline.  This remarkable presentation features the layering on of each art form in an experiential presentation.

The 2014 Conference for Integrative Medicine panel presenters include:

Ping Ho, MA, MPH (Moderator) – Founding Director, UCLArts and Healing; Steering Committee member, UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine; member of the Council of Advisers for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.

Erica Curtis, MFT, ATR-BC – Past President of the Southern California Art Therapy Association; past board member of the American Art Therapy Association; Instructor at Loyola Marymount University Department of Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy.  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Board Certified Art Therapist

John Mews, MA, MTA, MFT Registered Intern – Executive Director and Founder: Mewsic Moves; Board Certified Music Therapist, Marriage and Family Therapy Registered Intern; Special Needs Family and Parenting Coach.

Mimi Savage
, PhD Candidate, RDT – Southern California Chapter President of the North American Drama Therapy Association; Registered Drama Therapist; Drama Therapy Fund Professional Research Grant Recipient for 2014; Instructor for UCLArts and Healing SEA Program.

Lora Wilson Mau, MA, BC-DMT – President of the California Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association; Lecturer at California State University, Long Beach, Department of Dance.  Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist.

Improvisation sparks communication


Dan Klein

Life is an improvisation. No one hands you a script at the start of your day.

Dan Klein is an expert in improvisational communication and creative problem solving.  In this video, Going Beyond “Hello,” he explores the improvisational principle of “yes-and,” or accepting the offers of others, and how it applies to our daily lives. He describes the spirit of improvisation as “alive and in the moment” creativity.

Klein is the head of improv in the drama department at Stanford University and teaches at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Platner Institute for Design. He has taught improvisational communication and creative problem solving at companies like Cisco, Visa, BlackRock, and Nestle. A former dean of Bay Area Theater Sports School, Klein is also a founding member of the award-winning comedy group Kasper Hauser. Klein is co-author of three comedy books, including Obama’s Blackberry. Klein earned his degree in Cognition and Creativity from Stanford.

Click here to view the TEDxStanford talk on Going Beyond “Hello.”

Click here to read a Stanford Daily interview with Dan Klein, on how he became a professional improviser and how you can become one, too.

Dan Klein, and colleagues Tad Glauthier and Al Samuels, offer 7 improv and acting techniques to make your presentations more memorable.

The State of the Art and Science in Creative Arts Therapies—with a Focus on Treatment of Trauma

View the panel presentation on “The State of the Art and Science in Creative Arts Therapies—with a Focus on Treatment of Trauma” orchestrated by UCLArts and Healing for the major International Research Conference on Integrative Medicine and Health in 2012:

Click here to view the video.

view video

This panel discussion, which took place at the 2012 International Research Conference on Integrative Medicine and Health, begins with a state of the art review of current research and the goals and issues of ongoing research by moderator, Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH. Five distinguished clinicians and scholars from four creative arts therapy disciplines (art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy) then present discipline-specific research focused on the treatment of trauma. Panelists also offer a coordinated presentation highlighting underlying paradigms of the creative arts therapies and emerging trends in evidence-informed practice. Selected applications of creative arts therapies, including those in the context of academic health centers and integrative medicine, are illustrated. 

Panel Moderator: 
Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH
Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health, USA
Founding Director, Foundation for Art and Healing

Marcia L. Rosal, PhD, ATR-BC, HLM
Professor and Director Art Therapy Program, Florida State University, USA

Sherry Goodill, PhD, BC-DMT, NCC, LPC
Chairperson, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Drexel University, USA

Stephen Snow, PhD, RDT-BCT
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Concordia University, Canada

Bryan C. Hunter, PhD, LCAT, MT-BC
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Creative Arts Therapy, Nazareth College


View creativity conference videos from spring 2013

Click on the link below to view footage in 18 labeled segments from our April 7, 2013 conference entitled, “On the Edge of Chaos: Finding Flow and Resilience through Creativity & the Arts”.Image

Experience your new year intentions as reality

Experience your new year intentions as reality through this self-guided activity on your metaphorical home.  This activity is offered by Mimi Savage, Registered Drama Therapist and Doctoral student in Expressive Therapies.

Click on the link below to view the activity.

Gifts from the Heart – New Year Narradrama Activity – January 2014.pdf

Laughter through improvisational games with brief instructional videos

Tug O'War

In Anatomy of an Illness, UCLA professor Norman Cousins (author, medical humanitarian and bearer of over 70 honorary medical degrees) documented his remarkable recovery from the incurable connective tissue disease called ankylosing spondylitis, using laughter and massive injections of vitamin C.  Before he passed away in 1990, he used to say that laughter was a metaphor for the full range of positive emotions.  He dedicated the last part of his life to documenting the neuroimmune effects of positive emotions.  His Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA lives on as his legacy.

Laughter for a Change offers brief video clips that demonstrate a variety of improvisational theater games.  It is easy to see in these clips how improvisational art forms have team and community building value, in addition to fostering self-expression and creativity.  These art forms are rooted in the principle of synchrony, involving mirroring or affirmation of what is delivered (as in the principle of “yes-and” in the theater world).  Synchrony is a form of empathy, which is associated with positive or prosocial behavior.

An interesting neuroscientific study showed a link between synchrony and positive behavior.

In 2011, Kokal and colleagues showed that subjects in a magnetic resonance imaging machine who had an in-sync vs. out-of-sync rhythmic experience with an experimenter showed greater activity in the part of the brain that responds to a monetary reward (caudate) as well as greater measurable helpful behavior after the experiment was over.

Click here to view the study.


Free audio archive for creative arts therapies

The audio archive for creative arts therapies, sponsored by the Expressive Therapies Summit & Expressive Media’s Institute of the Arts in Healing, gives voice to creative arts therapists and inspiration to students and consumers.

Creative arts therapists may upload up to 2-minutes and 30 seconds of an inspiring story about what they do.

Students and consumers can learn from real professionals about the fields of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy/psychodrama, music therapy, poetry therapy/bibliotherapy, story/narrative/journaling, expressive arts therapy, and play/sand play therapy.

Click here to listen to, or post in, the audio archives.

Creative arts therapies in a nutshell: video clips of experiential demonstrations of art, dance/movement, drama, music, and poetry therapies

At the 2013 UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference, UCLArts and Healing presented a panel of leading clinician/scholars from five creative arts therapy disciplines (in art, dance/movement, drama, music, and poetry), who each offered an experiential demonstration of the principles of their work, as well as explained the nature of their discipline and training requirements.

Creative arts therapists are professionally educated in both mental health and the arts. They are trained in a variety of approaches with different populations and are able to develop individualized assessment and treatment plans. Rather than focusing on the product, they focus on the process of creative expression, which evokes unconscious information that is reflected upon for insight, self-awareness, and behavior change.

Click on the links below to view footage from the 10″ presentations.  You will see an entire auditorium of people on its feet, dancing.

Introduction to the Creative Arts Therapies – by Ping Ho, MA, MPH and Poetry Therapy – by Robert Carroll, MD

Art Therapy – by Erica Curtis, LMFT, ATR-BC

Dance/Movement Therapy – by Lora Wilson Mau, MA, BC-DMT

Drama Therapy – by Pam Dunne, PhD, RDT/BCT

Music Therapy – by Judith Pinkerton MT-BC/L

Panel Question and Answer Session

Click here for power point slides from each of the presentations.

Acting, body language, and authentic self-expression

By Stephanie Nash, MFA – Acting Teacher, Body Language Expert & Mindfulness Meditation Coach

I’ve always been interested in body language – especially when I first encountered other cultures in my teens.   I was interacting with people who moved and related to each other physically in ways that were quite foreign to my WASP upbringing.

When I got to Duke, I wanted to study body language, but this school with a top psychology department had no classes that delved into such material – so I took acting classes where I not only studied body language, I experienced it.

I had to move my body in ways I’d never done.  After 35 years as an actress, I believe the work on my physical “instrument” has been an integral part of my development as an actress – and my maturing as a human being.

I had to let go of old tensions and restrictions, and embrace new ways of moving as different characters – which created a much greater sense of compassion and connectedness to the characters I played – as well as to anyone who had ever been in such a situation.

When I became an acting teacher, I discovered that most acting teachers were not emphasizing body language as much as my training had, and I found that when I could align the actor’s body with their intention and emotional/psychological state, the result was a truthful, grounded performance.

When I became a mindfulness meditation teacher, I discovered that I could help people’s “inner” life, but then their habit of holding the body in restricted ways tended to create the feelings that were part of developing that habit.  I’d hear people complain of unpleasant emotions returning, and I would notice that they were holding their bodies in ways to create those emotions.  I then began my programs to help them “unlock” these habit patterns physically, creating a body that was free and a grounded environment that supported all the inner growth and shifts that were happening.

Now my interest is to help anyone (not just actors & meditators) to understand how the body can be an easy tool for self-transformation and discovery.