Empower through Improv

Join us for therapy and fun!



July 11, 2021 7:00 PM CST

Clay Drinko, Ph.D.

Play Your Way Sane: Applying Improv Principles to Our Own Mental Health Journeys

After publishing his academic book Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition, Clay Drinko, Ph.D. wasn't feeling the presence, flow, and connection in his everyday life that he often felt while improvising, so he created a twelve lesson/120 game system to use what we know and love about improv to become more curious, joyful, and grounded in our real lives. Join Clay as he talks about the origin of and science behind Play Your Way Sane and how it's helped him be less anxious and more mindful throughout his day. Clay will also guide participants through the twelve lessons by demonstrating some of the improv-inspired exercises, so come ready to play. Lessons include Calm the Hell Down, Finding the Game, Getting and Staying Positive, Embracing Mistakes, and Making Big Choices.

Clay Drinko, Ph.D.,Bio: Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition. He writes for Psychology Today about the intersection of improv, science, and the everyday. His most recent book Play Your Way Sane was published by Simon & Schuster and available now. 

July 18, 2021, 7:00 PM CST

Daniel J. Wiener, Ph.D., RDT-BCT

Margot Escott,, LCSW, RIG-CP

Empowering Clients to Improvise: First Principles, Next Steps

First developed in 1984, Rehearsals for Growth (RfG) is a therapeutic method that offers clients the “risky aliveness” of playful improvising to accelerate discovery of whom else they can be. Through enacting simple improv games (Mirrors,Presents, and One Word at a Time) and then reflecting on their immediate experiences, workshop participants will be introduced to distinctive RfG concepts and practices that: (1) create a safe space when introducing clients to improv; (2) help select improv games most appropriate to client readiness, skill level and motivation; and (3) maximize the therapeutic benefits of a just-concluded improv enactment by thorough verbal processing.


Daniel J. Wiener, Ph.D., RDT-BCT is a licensed psychologist in Northampton, MA and Director of Rehearsals for Growth, LLC, a training institute for psychotherapists who apply improvisational theatre games to their clinical work. A former university professor, LMFT and AAMFT Approved Supervisor, Dan has presented over 270 professional workshops in 10 countries, training over 1200 therapists to date. An Author/Editor of 5 books (starting with Rehearsals for Growth: Improvisation for Psychotherapists in 1994), as well as over 50 published chapters and articles, he is the recipient of Psychodrama’s Zerka T. Moreno Award (ASGPP), and both Drama Therapy’s Gertrude Schattner Award and a Research Award (NADTA).


Margot Escott,, LCSW, RIG-CP is a clinician in Naples, Florida for over 30years. She is the Director of Improv for Wellness, using improv therapeutically with groups and individuals.She is a Rehearsal for Growth Certified Practitioner and a member of the Advisory Board of Improv Therapy Group. For 30 years she has taught mental health professionals and the public on “The Healing Power of Humor, Laughter and Play”. Since discovering Improvisational Theatre she has taught and performed for the last ten years. She holds group classes for people with Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders with care partners, Improv for Anxiety, and with atypical children and teens. Her podcast, “Improv Interviews” features one 100 therapists who use improv and improvisers who are known internationally. She has been named Social Worker of the Year twice in Southwest Florida.

July 25, 2021, 7:00 PM CST

Dr. Nisha Sajnani

Serious Play: Drama Therapy in the Treatment of Trauma

Drama therapy draws on improvisation and performance to support participants in discovering insights about themselves and embodying new possibilities. In the context of working with people who have endured deeply stressful events, improv-based exercises can enable participants to recover a sense of play, experience the group as a protective resource, and internalize a greater capacity for presence and flexibility in moments of uncertainty. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the principles of drama therapy and trauma-informed care, and a sequence of exercises that begin with the practice of mirroring.

Nisha Sajnani, PhD, RDT-BCT is the Director of the Program in Drama Therapy and the Theatre & Health Lab at NYU Steinhardt. She is also on faculty at the NYU Stern School of Business where she teaches the art of improvisation in effective leadership. Dr. Sajnani is the editor of Drama Therapy Review and President of the Foundation for the Arts and Trauma. She co-founded the World Alliance of Drama Therapy and is the recipient of the Gertrud Shattner award from the North American Drama Therapy Association and the Corann Okorodudu Award from the American Psychological Association. The second edition of her co-edited book, Trauma-Informed Drama Therapy will be published by Charles C. Thomas next year. 

August 1, 2021, 7:00 PM CST

Denzel Belin

The Room Where It Happens: How Applied Improv can Support Agency for an Individual

Through discussion, sharing out experiences, and exercises that you will have a chance to ask questions about, this talk will help identify ways we can understand ideas like recognition vs. complacency and how we can properly support agency for an individual.

Denzel Belin is a Minneapolis-based writer, director, actor, producer, and improviser. Belin is a longstanding cast member and writer at Brave New Workshop and a staff writer for AWF magazine and The Nordly. He serves as the Artistic Director for Threshold Theater, whose mission is to "produce fresh LGBTQ works." He currently writes and performs for “Queer Window,” an all-queer sketch show based in New York City. Belin recently presented a longform collection of solo sketches and storytelling, “With Love, From Washington” for the Blackness Is… Festival in Minneapolis. With Threshold Theater, he is currently leading a play reading series that will provide five playwrights the opportunity to workshop their play with a director and team of actors that concludes with a recorded reading that can be viewed by the public. You can learn more at https://www.thresholdtheatermpls.com/

August 8, 2021, 7:00 PM CST

Walter Watson Swift, MPH

Intolerance of Uncertainty: Improv for Anxiety and Depression

The talk will be about the empirical research I conducted showing that certain theatre games can be helpful in reducing anxiety (GAD) and depression. Also a look at the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale.

Walter Watson Swift, MPH, Consulting Associate, Morten Group, LLC. Walter is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in Community Health Sciences. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. For more than 15 years, he has combined his experience in  television, journalism, theatre, and social science research. He has conducted studies that include combating methamphetamine addiction in the gay community, homelessness in Chicago’s transgender community, and using improvisational theatre games as an intervention for anxiety and depression. Additionally, he has vast experience as both a focus group facilitator and qualitative research analyst.