Afternoon at the improv–Theatre students and Counseling students collaborate to refine their skills

Philip ClarkeTaking on roles has taken on new meaning for a group of theatre students helping to train counseling students.  In practice counseling sessions in Tribble Hall classrooms, undergraduate theatre students act as clients for students in the graduate counseling program. The Interdisciplinary Performance and the Liberal Arts Center (IPLACe) funded initiative is led by Dr. Phil Clarke, assistant professor of counseling, and Sharon Andrews, professor of theatre. For four semesters, they have partnered so the theatre troupe can sharpen their improvisational acting and the counseling students can gain realistic counseling experience.

As Clarke explained, a significant part of crisis counseling is a counselor’s ability to manage his or her own reactions so that the counselor focuses on connecting, assessing, and safety planning with the client. The partnership of the counselors with the actors enables the students in the crisis counseling course to be exposed to more realistic crisis situations.  “The role-play collaboration is a win-win,” he said.

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