Recently, Annie Clark, who was a patient suffering with anxiety issues, attended a residential program for treating this condition and for treating the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But, even after the program, she was not able to make an eye contact with or she was not able to talk to strangers.
Improve for anxiety:
Then, she was made to attend the ‘Improv for Anxiety’, which is a unique therapeutic program developed by the Chicago’s popular improve-based sketch comedy troupe with the Second City, she has now got the skill to speak in public and social interactivity. Clark herself said that it was a gift to her voice. This is a joint program between the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center and the Second City and it brings together the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the improvisation technique to help patients fight against social phobia. Along with many other program graduates, Clark spoke to mental health providers at the Anxiety And Depression Association Of America Conference 2014 at a preconference session held for introduction of the technique of improvisation as a therapeutic tool to treat anxiety issues.
Boot camp for Anxiety:
Mark Pfeffer, who is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and the Director of the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center has stated that improv for anxiety is considered the only currently operating program of its kind in the entire world. The program began in the year 2011 with it was billed as social anxiety boot camp. The purpose of this program was to help adults with moderate social anxiety disorders, which is otherwise called as social phobia. Now, a separate program is available for teenagers facing the social anxiety issues. An 8-week program was found by Pfeffer to help patients to get out of their avoidance and fear towards social situations.
The Second City Training Center:
Pfeffer himself took the improvisation classes conducted at the second city training center in Chicago. Due to this participation, he experienced that it is a fun and safe atmosphere with the potential to boost comfort, improve public speaking skills and build confidence in social settings. This is why, he began recommending his patients with anxiety issues to take these classes. But, many of them were not able to take part. So, he began to design the program himself for meeting the particular requirements of his patients after teaming up with the instructors working for the Second City. Pfeffer has added that right from the introduction nearly 200 people have attended the program and it works.
Why does it work?
Even though, there is only a little scientific research that shows the efficiency of the improvisation therapy, Pfeffer has stated that subjective evidence shows that people are able to take life decisions after taking up this therapy, which was previously not possible for them. He has added that this is an effective tool for managing social anxiety for a number of reasons, inclusive of the reason that it is ensemble based.
Becca Barish, MSW, who learned this technique from the Second City and iO Chicago Improv classes has said that she is now using this technique for treating her patients at the Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center. So, this technique is gaining importance as a unique therapeutic technique for solving anxiety issues.