Art can be very therapeutic for people of all ages. It can take you outside of yourself, and it can often be a form of mediation that can calm your mind. There’s many forms of art therapy that can help people get better and heal, and now a new study has learned that improvisational theater can be very helpful for teen mental health.

Teens Improvising Your Way Towards Better Mental Health

Performing can be terrifying for most people, but conquering that fear of performing can help you combat other fears in your life, and it can help teens overcome social shyness.

Improv theater means there’s no script or preparation beforehand, you just go for it, whether you’re performing drama or comedy. And as Futurity reports, this is not only very helpful for teens, but it’s also an inexpensive activity for teens as well.

Much like the recovery process where you speak in groups, improv theater is a good group activity for teens as well. As one doctor explains, “The mutual support that improvisation rewards builds trust, helping group members feels safer taking risks and more willing to take risks.”

A Therapeutic Study on Improv and Teens

For one study, close to 300 teens and middle school kids worked together in an improv group in Detroit. After they performed, they answered questions about whether they felt more comfortable performing in groups or if they felt more comfortable making mistakes. (This is another great aspect of performing in an improv group, it makes you less afraid to make mistakes.)

For many of the teens who participated in this exercise, they felt a decrease in social anxiety, and they found themselves more skilled at making decisions and taking action.

Improv and Sobriety

A number of people who suffer from addiction have also tried improv classes as a tool for maintaining their sobriety. For people who have been through rehabilitation and recovery, comedy improv can be very effective as well.

One important aspect is when you’re improvising comedy or drama, it is crucial to be present and be in the now, especially with comedy. You have to make someone laugh right there and now.

As one person in recovery told The Fix, when she entered an improv group, “Suddenly I had the space to completely screw up and still be loved and supported, and that let me soar…the humiliation I felt at not being perfect at something immediately was very much holding me back.”

People can discover themselves through art therapy, and learn why they can often make the same mistakes over and over again. “iI was about embracing the moment and not needing to control every final detail, as I (and many others in Al-Anon) often had before. Improv was the perfect place to practice throwing myself into the unknown and trust that it would be fine.”

For teens and people in recovery, joining an improv group could indeed be a great way to throw a lot of fear, anxiety and mental health issues out there into the unknown, while knowing that you have a strong group of people that have your back while you’re doing it.


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