ITG Games and Exercises

Pocket Line : A traditional low-stakes improv game used for decreasing anxiety

A traditional low-stakes improv game used for decreasing anxiety, staying present in the moment, letting go of perfection, increasing confidence and finding humor in stressful situations.  DMV EMPLOYEE: What do you want? MEGAN: I need to renew my expired license. DMV EMPLOYEE: Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.  Everyone laughs including Megan who has been feeling anxiety about her upcoming errand to the DMV.  Here’s how to play:…

Hot Spot: An Improv Therapy Group “Follow the Fear” exercise

This improv warm up game is some people’s favorite, but it is also some people’s least favorite because it involves singing. (groans from students). Yes, I’m afraid there will be singing.  What’s worse is that you’ll be asked to stand in the middle of a circle and start a song all by yourself. This can be very much out of many people’s comfort zone, but I want to remind you…

Hot Spot: An Improv Therapy Group “Follow the Fear” exercise

This improv warm up game is some people’s favorite, but it is also some people’s least favorite because it involves singing. (groans from students). Yes, I’m afraid there will be singing.  What’s worse is that you’ll be asked to stand in the middle of a circle and start a song all by yourself. This can be very much out of many people’s comfort zone, but I want to remind you…

Ease into Freeze: The Improv Therapy Group way to teach the traditional improv game, Freeze

Freeze is the most popular improv game. If you have a friend who only knows one improv game, Freeze is the one they know. I like to think of it as the improviser’s playground. A chance to do a bunch of short scenes and include things like inside jokes, character gifts and callbacks. But for some Freeze is intimidating. It brings up pressures of initiating and trying to be funny. …

Sculptures: An Improv Therapy Group exercise

This exercise demonstrates some of the very basic principles of improv and communication in an active, fun, low-stakes way. We are going to make 2-person human sculptures. Players are in a circle. First player strikes a pose in the middle of the circle. Second player adds to that pose to complete the 2-person human sculpture. The third player, inspired by what the first two did, names the sculpture. There are…

Storytelling, An Improv Therapy Group exercise

Telling our stories is one of the best ways to connect. This exercise increases empathy, team bonding and communication skills. Participants are in teams of about six (often the class is split in half) Teams sit in tight circles together. Each player is going to tell a one-minute true story about themselves. It can be an embarrassing moment story, an injury story, a celebrity meeting, a vacation story, a childhood…

Love It! An improv therapy group exercise inspired by the improv games Emotional Symphony, Gripes, and Rants & Raves

There are many versions of emotion symphony type improv games. I have found that keeping things positive in recovery can be a beneficial and positive way to get folks into the improv frame of mind. Players are in teams, and position themselves half sitting and half standing behind them so that everyone can see me, the conductor. Each player will get a topic to rave about. They can choose their…

Comma, an improv therapy group exercise

Word association is a great improv exercise to help us stay in the moment, listen to our partner, and react without overthinking or judging our own responses. Comma adds the element of furthering our thoughts, and sharing more about ourselves. Participants are in a circle. Start with any suggestion, such as summertime. First player says what summertime makes them think of. Whatever they said, the next person says what that…

Silent Scream, an improv therapy group exercise

Recognizing and expressing emotions is a skill that can be practiced to build empathy and emotional intelligence. In this exercise participants get to safely explore a variety of emotions, practice non-verbally communicating them, and practice recognizing them in others. As we play the game we also develop an elaborate list of emotions (similar to the emotion wheel) to refer to in further emotional work. Participants are divided into teams. Teams…

Chain-O-Links, an improv exercise

Creating a story as a group bonds an ensemble, helps us stay in the moment, and encourages us to let go of perfection, all while laughing together. This is one of my favorite storytelling/group bonding exercises. To start, three participants volunteer for the “easiest jobs” of this exercise. For player one I get a suggestion of an occupation (plumber) and an object (apple). Player one’s line is: “Once there was…

Therapist Know-It-All, an Improv Therapy Group exercise based on One Word Story

Playing one word story is one of the best ways I know to practice embracing imperfection and staying in the moment. Playing a therapist who knows it all is a great way to practice feeling confident, and celebrating that there are no wrong answers.  Players are in small groups of three to five people. The first goal is to try to tell a story together one word at a time….

Inspirational Inventions – An Improv Therapy Group adaptation of the improv game Ad Campaign

YES AND instills self-confidence. Knowing that everyone in the room will say yes to all of your ideas at all times gives us the freedom to say what we feel without fear of rejection. Sometimes there is a voice in my head that says, “don’t say that. They might not like that. That won’t be funny enough. That won’t be good enough.” I tell my students, “Crumple that voice up…

Yes And Adventure, An Improv Therapy Group exercise

Yes And Adventure An Improv Therapy Group exercise   Everyone get a partner. Your task is for you and your partner to plan an amazing adventure together, but for the first part of the exercise you must start every sentence with either “no” or “yes, but…” For example, if your partner says, “Let’s go to Hawaii,” you might respond with, “no, I’d rather go to Europe,” or “yes, but it’s…

Five Joyful Things – An Improv Therapy Group adaptation of the warm-up game Five Things

Five Joyful Things An Improv Therapy Group adaptation of the warm-up game Five Things   With all of the stress and struggles in the world today, especially for those in recovery, I like to begin an improv therapy class with something positive. Something that reminds us to be grateful for even the small joys in our lives.    Students are in a circle. I say, “We’re going to each share…

I Am Somebody – An Improv Therapy Group Warm Up

It’s the first day with a new group. They may be apprehensive about being in an improv class, a recovery group session or an event they are attending . They don’t know me, and I have yet to earn their trust. I want to show them that this is going to be fun, that we’re going to laugh together.  I want the group participants to know they are going to…