Improving the Communication of Social Workers through Theater Techniques
Live Online Training
Part I: Saturday, October 24, 2020
Part II: Sunday, November 1, 2020
9:00am–12:00pm and 2:00–5:00pm EDT/EST (both days)
Participants must attend both sessions to qualify for CE hours.
NYSED and ASWB Approved for 12 CE contact hours
In order to communicate successfully we start by practicing two basic skills:
- Being present, and
- Getting rid of distractions.
We all have needs and wants that we strive to meet every day. These are sometimes called emotional objectives. We may want and need respect, control or help at times throughout the course of a day. During this step in the training, each participant experiences and identifies needs and wants (e.g., I want respect or approval) in a given situation, a critical step necessary before you begin to listen actively to others. This crucial step grounds participants in an awareness of their own motivations, experience, and space, and importantly, enhances each participant’s ability to be present. Building on the skills learned in Step 1 of the training (being present while identifying your own needs and wants), participants then learn in Step 2 how to become aware of the needs and wants of others. Here they will practice many active listening skills using 2 line interactions and shorts scripts, including:
- Using your eyes during this Zoom training to help your partner feel your need when you are talking
- Watching and trying to experience your partner’s needs as s/he is talking. This practice in active listening helps Social Workers improve hearing the wants and needs of clients
- Getting your own needs and wants met when the words and needs match
- Getting your own needs and wants met when the words and needs do not match
In the third component of the training, participants learn and practice active empathy via a series of increasingly complicated role-plays in small groups. Active empathy is an essential skill underlying the ability to take another person’s perspective and better communicate with them. During this component of the training, participants:
- Live inside the stories of characters using 8-line scripts
- Live inside the stories of patients/parents who need to overcome obstacles
- Use role-plays to live inside very complicated stories
Through this progression of empathy training, other people’s stories become deeply internalized as participants experience the point of view of many characters; thus making it difficult to stereotype people who are different than you.
The final component of the training is a role-play in which participants utilize and practice all the skills learned during the entire training. This role-play is different than the others, because instead of playing other characters as you do in other components of the training (e.g. mental health professional, teacher, child, or parent that you played while learning active empathy), you will be playing your real life professional role. For example, you will be yourself as a Social Worker interacting with a patient (played by another social work professional).
- Learn concrete ways to improve the therapeutic alliance
- Develop skills needed by the Social Worker before meeting with individuals, couples, families and/or children
- Learn active empathy training so that the Social Worker can experience the voice, story and point of view of one’s client while still keeping boundaries
- Practice being yourself as a Social Worker working with an individual, family member and/or child(ren) in “lived” role plays
Marjorie Heymann, PhD, Psychology and Education
Director, Communication Through Theater
Dr. Heymann, a former professional theatre director, developed, researched and implemented the Empowerment Through Theatre® program which teaches engagement and communication skills. The program trains participants to use active listening (by hearing both the words and the needs underneath the words), to empathize with others (by living in fictitious lives through scripts and role playing), to overcome obstacles (such as depression, anxiety and physical complaints), to practice anger management techniques, and to advocate for their own needs and the needs of their child, student, patient and/or client. Role plays are used to practice life situations with an emphasis on dealing with conflict and pausing to get instruction and/or training.
Currently Dr. Heymann is a Lecturer at Columbia’s Department of Child Psychiatry; an Associate Clinical Professor at NYU’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; a consultant for the Center for Educational Innovation and a consultant for the REACH Institute.
Empowerment Through Theatre® (originally called Skills Through Drama) has been used with a variety of populations including parents, teachers, teenagers, doctors (child psychiatrists, adult psychiatrists, pediatricians and primary care physicians); parent advocates; clinic patients, public school counselors, immigrants, prison inmates, ex-offenders, and refugees from the war in the former Yugoslavia and others. The program has been offered in many settings including: The Parent Empowerment Program; the Developing Center on Implementation of EBPs for Children; New York Presbyterian Hospital Pediatric Psychiatry Clinic (for parents of children in treatment and for teenagers over 14 years of age); for the Center for Educational Innovation (which honored Dr. Heymann at the Plaza Hotel in NYC for her work with parents, teachers and communities in 3 schools in Washington Heights: MS 328, MS 324 and MS 322; plus in 3 failing schools in the Bronx in partnership with the Department of Education); Turn 2 Us and New York-Presbyterian Hospital at PS 128 and PS 4 (which additionally used this approach with English training for Spanish speakers); CARING at Columbia at IS 218 (in coordination with The Children's Aid Society) and at PS 128; the Mayo Clinic (with psychiatric residents); The Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health; The Queens House of Detention for Men (under the Division of Continuing Education and the Adult Learning Center run by LaGuardia Community College); The Women's House of Detention at Riker's Island (through the Board of Education); and for Primary Pediatric Psychopharmacology Conferences, and national CMEs at the University of Buffalo and at Columbia’s Psychiatric Institute.
Dr. Heymann was director of Healthy Schools, Healthy Students and Learning for Life, a pilot program, which targeted 3rd grade student behavior and learning in the classroom, plus family outreach by providing access to mental health doctors, parent advocates and hospital services.
Theatre Director/Sample Shows: NYC - Up! (one of the first feminist plays), Three by Grace (Paley); Summer Stock - Marat/Sade, The Fantasticks
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