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Playing, Not Using: Using Improvisation to Develop Healthier Responses to Substance Abuse Triggers

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 9:00am to 11:00am | 2 CEUs
Lisa Kays , MSW, LICSW, LCSW-C
The Pavilion At Williamsburg Place
5483 Mooretown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23188


Workshop participants will engage in playful, fun, improvisational games and activities that heighten self-discovery and provide enhanced understanding of the underlying processes, thoughts and beliefs related to client relapse and ways that improvisation can help clients to make positive choices in moments of reactivity or stress.

Presentation Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Learn improvisational acting techniques that can help identify and shift feeling states
  • Gain increased self-knowledge that can positively influence client work and empathy
  • Explore and understand barriers we (and our clients) experience to intimacy, authenticity and spontaneity
  • Identify specific thoughts and beliefs linked to anxiety and social connection


The workshop will provide experiences designed to illustrate and illicit various aspects of self-discovery; anxiety-related thoughts and beliefs that may trigger stress or relapse; explore how collaboration, relationship and partnership (and isolation) influence relapse risk and/or strengthens recovery; experience ways that posture and physical movement influence and can be used to shift moods and attitudes; and, ways to use the practice of play to decrease anxiety and increase presence in the moment, both of which are shown to reduce risk of relapse.


Highly participatory, experiential group activities.

About the Speaker

Lisa Kays, LICSW, LCSW-C provides psychotherapy to adults with difficulties in the areas of relationships, trauma, destructive behavior, addiction, family-of-origin, depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. She holds a Master’s in Social Work from Catholic University’s National Catholic School of Social Service and has completed the first year of the Washington School of Psychiatry’s Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy Program. She is licensed as a clinical social worker in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Lisa is a member of the Greater Washington Society of Clinical Social Work. She has trained and worked with a diverse spectrum of clients in a variety of clinical settings, including the Washington Hospital Center’s inpatient psychiatry unit, the Catholic University Counseling Center, a residential substance abuse treatment program within a women’s prison, an outpatient clinic primarily serving court-mandated clients and clients on federal probation, Kolmac Clinic, and private practice. Lisa engages in ongoing supervision and peer consultation, as well as structured learning.

Lisa has taught introductory level improvisation at Washington Improv Theater and led workshops in basic improvisational skills since 2008, and currently rehearses and performs with the improv troupe, Neighbors. She recently completed the first level of training in the use of improvisational drama in psychotherapy through Rehearsals for Growth!

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