November 2020 – blog entry

By María Carracedo

Fundación INTRAS (Spain)

WE DID IT!! We trained seventeen people from the field of mental health in Spain (professionals and users) on improv techniques to deal with verbal violence and abuse. And we did face to face workshops!!!

This sentence would have sound as non-sense or stupid one year ago, but today unfortunately, all of us understand perfectly what it means. Doing anything together with others face to face (or mask to mask) is a challenge nowadays that is why we are so proud of having being able of doing the improv workshops in this difficult times. We had to “improvise” new ways of improv training, with masks, safety distance, reduced groups, hydro-alcohol, open windows, cleaning and disinfecting hands, shoes and everything….being honest was not easy, but was not that difficult either. The factor that simplified everything was the enthusiasm of trainers and trainees, who decided to rush headlong into the improv regardless the difficulties and the uncomfortable restrictions they had to respect. And it deserved the effort, the feedback by now from the participants is clear and show that the sessions constitute a relief in this uncertain times.

These are some words of the users: “I like it very much, it is very funny”; “Fun and enthusiasm during the whole session”; “Liberating, it helps to express”. And from the perspective of MH professionals the feeling is similar: “One of the users said she wanted more…and she never talks!…the way she expresses is exciting and touching”; “Users are very honest with their emotions”; “They are glad”; “Good feedback and response from the users”, “It just flow.”

Our partners in Greece have managed also to start the training by mixing online and face to face sessions. They are on it at this moment and it is also working very well. Now we wait with great expectation their feedback.

Here in Spain, the training continue in its second phase with the users, wearing masks, disinfecting everything, keeping safety distance, and with very reduced groups…all of the instructions to feel safe and to “get an ACTitute” at the same time.

The next step of ACTitude project will be to evaluate how these techniques are useful to deal with verbal violence and abuse, and with the emotions that those situations provoke…. Keep track on it!

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