|Abstract or Summary
- The proposed program aspires to strengthen helping skills for pre-practicum psychology students in training. Although helping skills training is a common first step in training programs today, the impact and effectiveness of this training is not fully understood. Research suggests that novice therapists can learn basic helping skills relatively quickly (Baker, Daniels, & Greeley, 1990), but also indicates that anxiety can impact the beginner therapist's self-efficacy which negatively impacts the utilization of helping skills in counseling related behaviors and clinical situations (Larson & Daniels, 1998; Lent, Hill, & Hoffman, 2003). Research indicated that role-play and modeling increase a trainee's self-efficacy compared to a control group without these experiential training techniques (Shurts, Cashwell, Spurgeon, Degges-White, Barrio, & Kardatzke, 2006). Role-play is a technique taken from the dramatic tradition. Throughout history, drama has been utilized in healing, education, and entertainment (Emunah, 1994). Employing drama in the training of psychologists blends the healing and educational elements in an experiential training approach. By incorporating action methods such as improvisation and playback theatre, educators can pass on and construct meaning through multiple intelligences (Weinstock-Wynters, 1997). Improvisation techniques will be utilized to strengthen empathic listening, self-awareness, and creativity in the novice psychology student in an attempt to decrease anxiety, increase self-efficacy, and as development continues, increase here-and-now engagement and active listening skills. Eight subjects participated in a two-hour pilot class for this program development dissertation. The pilot course consisted of seven experiential improvisation exercises. Overall feedback on the pilot program was positive. Written feedback suggested the following strengths in the course: potential to decrease anxiety in students, potential to increase self-awareness and self-discovery, and a potential for more student interaction. All participants responded yes to believing creative arts should be a part of psychology training. Participants suggested allowing for more time in working experientially, and proposed more discussion surrounding the connections between improvisation and psychology. These suggestions were incorporated in the final creation of this training program. The proposed program utilizes improvisation and playback theatre in the training of psychology students. It is hoped that this program will be enacted and evaluated for further research in this area.