In applied improv, as in therapy “Yes And…” is an openness to the other person’s world view, and a willingness to build, work on or contribute to it.
In relational therapy we know that the quality of our relational contact with clients plays a significant role in how our clients experience therapy as helpful or not; we know that a functional working alliance is necessary for the relationship to form and thrive. What we don’t often talk about is the fact that every moment in a session is an opportunity to build on, alter and play with the working alliance for the benefit of our clients’ wellbeing.
Improvisers are encouraged to say YES! To build on the unique offer of contact as it is given, again and again and again until resolution is reached. Improvisers call this heightening, we call it a variety of things including pacing, grading, acceptance, empathic resonance and many more lovely clever words which all in the end describe the making, maintaining and breaking of relational bonds (after Manella, 2002)
“Yes And…” is about unconditional acceptance of whatever the other is offering to the shared contact.
“Look out the other’s window. Try to see the world as your patient sees it.” ― Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
In a life sense obviously we have to filter that. In improv if one player says ‘let’s rob a bank’ “Yes And…” builds on the offer and makes for an interesting scene. But if a client says ‘Let’s go and rob a bank so that I can pay you for your time,’ common sense suggests that whilst we may accept she thinks it’s a brilliant idea, and we are likely to explore what’s going on for the client that makes her think this is a viable solution, we are not going to go along with a heist.
For therapists and improvisers alike “Yes And…” affirms the value of the uniqueness of others, embraces difference, encourages authenticity and voices an explicit willingness to be connected and in contact.
Right Here Right Now teaches therapists how to use improv to tap into their unique brand of relational authenticity in the clinical setting. To find out more http://cascadetherapy.co.uk/event/cpd-workshop-for-counsellors-psychotherapists/