Spring Conference 2019 – Play with Me: The Role of Improvisation in Personal Growth, Relationships and Therapy

Play with Me: The Role of Improvisation in Personal Growth, Relationships and Therapy


white-squareGuest Presenter: Lisa Kays, LICSW, LCSW-C

Saturday, & Sunday, March 30-31, 2019
Saint Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC
This event is co-sponsored by
The Washington School of Psychiatry


Conference Description: The Spring Conference offers a unique learning experience through large group meetings and dialogue, didactic information-sharing, experiential and demonstration, and small process group experiences. Our goal is to provide a learning environment in which conference members can integrate a deeper understanding of the topical content and consider introducing new material into their work. This conference is intended for psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, psychiatric nurses, and social workers.



Lisa Kays is creating a conference for MAGPS that is responsive to our mission to work as effective and compassionate therapists. She will present a  group therapeutic approach that utilizes experiential exercises to illustrate the mind-body connection of emotions, and how to work with them in the moment, including with reluctance or anxiety. She will also demonstrate how therapeutic playfulness with Improv can help us, and our clients, accept all that we bring to an experience, and the opportunity it provides to explore, and get “unstuck”.  She will highlight how the importance of compassion and empathy from our own Improv experiences are helpful in our work as group therapists and our lives as mental health professionals in our community.


Saint Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC

Learning objectives:

The participants will be able to:

  1. Identify and more deeply empathize with our own and client anxiety;
  2. Utilize shifts in body movement, posture and speed to impact mood and perspective;
  3. Identify and compare different outcomes that can be gained from collaborative creative processes versus individual ones;
  4. Identify ways that techniques of improvisation mirror, and are applicable to, positive interactions in relationships;
  5. Identify how creative and action-oriented interventions with patients can achieve clinical goals;
  6. Identify performance and social anxiety and methods to address it; and,
  7. Demonstrate Increased self-knowledge and awareness of practitioner anxiety and coping mechanisms and how they may impact work with patients

About our Presenter

Lisa Kays has been practicing psychotherapy with individuals, couples and groups since 2013. She acquired her MSW from Catholic University’s Catholic School of Social Services. She has obtained additional training from the Washington School of Psychotherapy’s ISTDP First Year Program and from Rehearsals for Growth!, which trains psychotherapists in the use of improvisation.

She has studied and performed as an improvisor for more than seven years and was on the faculty of Washington Improv Theater (WIT) from 2008-2017. She developed the theater’s first Improv for Mental Health Professionals class, and offers improv informed group therapy and Improv for Therapists. Recently, she has partnered with Kate Symes to offer “Punching Up” workshops to local improvisers, focusing on the use of improvisation as a tool for empowerment, compassion and bridging cultural, racial, gender, ability-based and other differences that often involve imbalanced power dynamics.

She has trained and worked with diverse spectrum of clients and groups, in a variety of clinical settings, including an inpatient psychiatry unit, counseling centers, residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, including one within a women’s prison, an outpatient clinic primarily serving court-mandated clients and clients on federal probation, and in private practice.


For more information please contact Lenore Pomerance and Christopher Straley, Conference Co-Chairs, at conferences@magps.org.


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