The American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies - Webinar

Improvisation as an Interviewing Strategy for Human Service Professionals   (MEMBERS ONLY)

Presented by Jim Robinson, PhD; Heather Meyer, MFA

This webinar is only available to members
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Webinar Objectives:

  • Summarize the 'Improvisational Mindset,' focusing on the 'yes, and…' principle, radical non-judgment, and 'best scene/best partner' approaches.
  • Explain specific interview situations where the improvisational approach can be used to gather important information and establish an empathic connection.
  • Implement improvisational techniques through role-playing examples and immediate feedback with co-presenter.


The improvisational mindset can help Human Service Practitioners, such as law enforcement, correction & probation officers, first responders, mental health providers, and clergy connect more deeply and effectively with people in need.  Three basic improvisational approaches make this possible. First, the interviewer uses the "yes, and…” principle, accepting interviewees exactly where they are and paying close, specific attention to the verbal and non-verbal "gifts.”  Secondly, the Human Service specialists use the improvisational approach of "radical non-judgment,” committing to discovery and curiosity to enhance existing protocol.  Finally, interviewers implement the "best scene/best partner” perspective, aspiring to see each encounter as the best one with the best partners.  These three concepts enhance existing interviewing techniques, giving Human Service Practitioners readily accessible tools in a variety of settings.

A post-test, handout, and certificate of completion will be provided upon completion of this one-hour webinar.

Presenter Biography:

Jim Robinson, PhD has over 25 years of experience as a theatrical and applied improviser.  He has been a CIT role player with police officers and has worked extensively with social work trainees using improvisation as a way to create realistic, dynamic interviews around mental health.  As an improvisation instructor, Jim has worked at the Brave New Workshop, the Guthrie Theater, the University of Minnesota’s Continuing Education Program, and, for St. Catherine University, created and taught the course "Improvisation and Mental Health.”  Jim has taught Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology for nearly 30 years at St. Catherine University, the University of St. Thomas, and Gustavus Adolphus College.  Through the University of Minnesota’s Family Social Science program Jim co-facilitated courses on Group Process and managed the summer internship placements for the Alcohol/Drug Counseling Education Program.  Jim is a proud alumnus of the Brave New Workshop mainstage and is co-owner of Table Salt Productions, a local theater company specializing in original works.

Heather Meyer, MFA is an improvisational trainer and creative coach. She taught with The Brave New Workshop, The Loft Literary Center, Strike Theater, National Theater for Children, Akumal Artist Residency and Spalding University’s Scotland Residency. She’s a staff writer for an international children’s animation series and her stage scripts have been performed in over 30 states. Heather has an MFA in Playwriting from Spalding University and is an MA Sustainable Design candidate at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

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