The use of improvisational theater training to reduce social anxiety in adolescents

Publication date: Available online 3 December 2018Source: The Arts in PsychotherapyAuthor(s): Peter Felsman, Colleen Seifert, Joseph A. HimleAbstractAdolescents do not receive the mental health treatment they need for Social Anxiety Disorder. Improvisational theater involves regular exposure to social performance situations, and is recognized as a potential psycho-social intervention. The current study examines whether participating in a school-based improvisational theater program predicts reductions in symptoms of social anxiety. A total of 268 middle and high school students who participated in a ten-week school-based improvisational theater program completed surveys in a single group pre/post design. Adolescents who screened positive for social phobia at the beginning of class reported reduced symptoms of social anxiety at post-test. This change predicts increases in social skills, hope, creative self-efficacy, comfort performing for others, and willingness to make mistakes, along with marginal decreases in symptoms of depression. Given that no prior study has examined school-based improvisational theater training and its relationship to social anxiety, this work offers an important early contribution to the empirical literature on improvisation and mental health. School-based improvisational theater training offers an accessible, non-clinical alternative for addressing social anxiety problems among adolescents.
Source: Arts in Psychotherapy - Category: Psychiatry & Psychology Source Type: research

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