"Yes, and": Acceptance, Resistance, and Change in Improv, Aikido, and Psychotherapy
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The twentieth century saw the evolution of three seemingly unrelated disciplines - improv theatre, Aikido, and Ericksonian hypnotherapy - that embody strikingly similar approaches to acceptance, resistance, and change.
Improv’s "yes, and..." practice, in which you accept and build on your partner’s offer, provides a simple conceptual framework for viewing the similarities between these practices. In improv, as well as in Aikido’s "blending" and Erickson’s "utilization," you aligns with your partner/opponent's energy and redirect it instead of blocking it. Each discipline emphasizes being present in the moment, avoiding struggle, and viewing resistance as a gift. These and other parallels help provide an interdisciplinary validation of the underlying "yes, and..." principle.
This article explores applying a "yes, and..." approach to the processing of negative emotions. It also discusses possible applications of improv training in couples therapy, therapist training, and treatment of chronic negativity and social anxiety disorder.