I admit, I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I stepped off the airplane to attend the annual SXSW convention.
Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect of Austin, Texas, let alone the city-wide Interactive and Film portion of an incredibly famous conference that drew 25,000 people to a University town during a rainy weekend in March.
And how did I come to be there, anyway? That is a good question, and one that I can now answer without mumbling under my breath: I was asked to be a panelist during the “Online Therapy…Naked?” discussion. But, I am getting ahead of myself…
Friday morning I was ushered to the front of a 2 hour line to pick up my badge for the conference. While in my head I danced a little jig, reveling in my VIPness, I look to my right and see an entire camera crew documenting some guy’s own approach to the registration desk. Clearly my rock-star status was quickly humbled.
Badge in hand, I attended my first panel: “Improv… Change Happens,” hosted by Hirsch and Hirsch, a Married Improvisational Team. This dynamic duo shared a small comedic technique that is used in stand-up improv to facilitate communication between comedians, especially when thrown a difficult topic of conversation. Simply titled, “Yes, and…”, this technique draws from Dialectical Behavior Therapy as a means to simply accept the reality of another person’s perception and build upon that perception without letting go of your own goals for engagement (or, as comedians say, “while holding onto your shit”). The Comedians Hirsch caution us to avoid but sandwiches which lend to defensiveness or power struggles, and instead validate our partner’s feelings with the ‘yes’ comment and redirect onto positivity with the ‘and’ statement. For example, an adolescent may exclaim, “OMG if anyone sees me here, I’ll never live it down!” and her father may respond, “Yes, and you and that person who is also here may have a huge laugh about it later.” The role playing activities further reinforced the DBT concepts that a situation may not be “all or nothing,” but “both/and” as well, and could be easily accomplished with a well-engaged couple presenting for communication improvement treatment.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to find panels that related so easily to my clinical practice, and I left the comedians with all the gears spinning in my head… was it possible that there were other panels, run by software engineers and business/marketing moguls that could also help my practice?
To read the entire post click here: Wonder Woman takes on South By SouthWest
Author: Audrey Jung
Originally published by Online Therapy Institute March 13/15, 2012 for the Online Therapy Institute Blog