If you are responsible for a preteen, teen, or adult who suffers from the effects of trauma, you may be struggling to ensure they engage in therapy, the classroom, or in life.

  • Perhaps there are times that you feel that you should be able to connect with them and help them to heal, but you feel that you just can’t reach them. They push you away or tune you out completely.

  • You don’t want them to be so isolated by their anger, depression, anxiety, and unhealthy choices. You want them to be successful and feel the joy, support and love that is around them.

  • Trying to reach them by talking can be ineffective and frustrating. They respond with silence, anger, violence or other unhealthy actions and the opportunity to connect is lost.

To engage verbally our brain needs to be “online.”

For someone who has experienced trauma it is very often “offline,” meaning they are instead in the part of their brain that is meant to protect oneself from threats.

So, they are not actually understanding you as you try to reach them. They are still trying to protect themselves.

What if there was a fast and simple way to help those who suffer the effects of trauma get their brain online so they can better engage with others, learning, treatment, life...

There is!

Take a look at these two Brain Map images depicting brain wave activity.  

The top map shows brain wave activity before doing improv. 

See the dark and bright colors? That indicates the person is struggling to focus, think, and relax.

What does this look like in real life?

It looks like a teen who won’t look up or make eye contact. They won't talk or respond to you. 

It looks like they are tense and hunched over seeming to hide. They might seem anxious or depressed. But they also might become violent or aggressive if you keep trying to talk to them.


Now look at the Brain Map on the second line. This is after just minutes of improv. See that the colors have cleared. There is an improvement in cognition, attention and a release of muscle tension.

What does this look like in real life?

That is a teen who is able to co-regulate. They are now standing tall, smiling and communicating positively with those around them. They are relaxed, open, can think, and respond.

Newly Published Research Reveals ...

the One Rule Improv approach when used with Teens with Complex Developmental Trauma ...

drives the nervous system to self-organize towards integration and balance, thus shifting the individual from the mental state they are in to one better able to function cognitively, physically, behaviorally, and psychologically, improving their capacity to engage and make meaningful connections with others.

DeMichele, M., & Kuenneke, S. (2021). Short-form, comedy improv affects the functional connectivity in the brain of adolescents with complex developmental trauma as measured by qEEG: A single group pilot study. NeuroRegulation, 8(1), 2±13. https://doi.org/10.15540/nr.8.1.2

Once you experience the transformative power of improv...

and how completely accessible, easy and enjoyable it is to learn, you will want to keep practicing and also sharing it with those around you.

Make Improv Your Own was created out of necessity.

  • After years of working with a great many people over the years, I’ve learned that after only a single experience they go home or to work and try to teach and share improv with others.

  • While it is wonderful that they had fun and recognized the transformative power and potential of improv, they soon realize that replicating their experience with improv for others is not as obvious or as easy as they thought.

  • What if there was a way you could not only gain the benefits of improv, but you could facilitate a similar experience for others, especially for those most in need of connection?

  • Make Improv Your Own will help you in just seven weeks learn to play, teach, and create your own improv sessions to meet the needs of your people (family, students, clients, coworkers, strangers) and in your space (classroom, family therapy session, in a van, at a coffee shop, virtual, in person, wherever).

By the end of the program, you’ll be able to:

  • Confidently play improv, gaining the benefits you seek personally.

  • Create your own improv sessions at home or work to benefit yourself and others.

  • Choose the improv games that work best for you and your people

  • Confidently teach and lead improv so others can feel safe and secure and confident as they experience the transformation improv offers.

Make Improv Your Own is offered in 7 easy to use On-Line Learning Modules released weekly.

It includes:
  • Module 1: How Improv Will Change Your Life
    If you feel a little uncertain about why this process works while nothing else ever seems to, in this first module, I will walk through what improv is, why people in all different industries and disciplines world-wide are practicing it, and how improv delivers life changing benefits.

  • Module 2: One Rule Improv-Achieve the Benefits of Improv Every time
    Although improv might still seem complicated and intimidating, Module 2 starts you one your way to understanding and implementing the One Rule Improv approach. This strategic approach, focusing on just one rule and one structure, opens up the power of improv to you and those with whom you want to share it in a way that is accessible, easy, and enjoyable.

  • Module 3: Teaching, Playing and Participating with Confidence
    If you are excited about improv, but still a bit uncertain about who does what, this module breaks down exactly what the players, audience, teacher, and facilitator/director of improv needs to do to have the experience and get the results you want. Here you will dive into learning and experiencing the very specific roles and responsibilities everyone needs to follow to make sure the joyful, supportive, and sometimes hilarious experiences and many benefits are achieved.

  • Module 4: The Not So Obvious Skills You Need for Effective Facilitation
    So that you have no guesswork when you decide to share improv, in this Module, I will demonstrate essential strategies for facilitating any size group whether in physical and virtual environments. If you have never taught or led a group before or perhaps would like to feel more confident doing so, this module reveals highly effective facilitation skills to help you create a successful experience for yourself and everyone involved.

  • Module 5: Two Key Steps to Transform Lives, Performance and Culture
    No matter what, there will be people in our lives who are hesitant or resistant to trying improv. This Module gives you two additional steps to help you create engagement and sustain the results you desire.

  • Module 6: How to Choose Games to Ensure Success
    If you have ever done improv you may have noticed that there are a great many games called “improv” games. While they may be fun for some people, they may not be accessible to all or create the transformative benefits and outcomes you want. This Module helps you determine if the game you are considering is the type of improv game that will work for your people and deliver the benefits and results you want. This will allow you to adapt and meet the needs of your group as you strategically choose games from moment to moment.

  • Module 7: Get Started, Achieve the Benefits and Sustain the Results
    For those of you who have been through training that never got put to use, it is often because you never felt like it was really yours to apply in the way you needed. In this Module you will take everything you have learned, practiced, and already started applying to your life personally and professionally, and now with intention and purpose turn it into your own Improv session that you can use at home, work, with friends, anywhere. Your plan can be for sessions held virtually, live or both. This is your improv! Make it your own!

Each module contains:

  • Step-by-step videos with demonstrations

  • Skill-building exercises to prepare you every step of the way 

  • Activities to help you apply everything you learn each week

  • Downloadable Tools to guide and coach you as you work toward the creation of your own plan

  • Improv Game Video downloadable Game Plan and Facilitation Scripts to make learning new games fast and easy

As a BONUS you'll also receive:

BONUS TOOL: The Solution Generator

This downloadable tool helps to pinpoint strategies from the course that may help to solve issues of engagement and participation.  Released after Module 5 for maximum benefit.

BONUS MODULE : Create Your Own Games and Variations

Ever feel unsure about changing something for fear it might break. It is wise to feel that way but having completed this course you are now ready to make changes that will not destroy the integrity and benefits of improv. This module will help you to intentionally create game variations and even new game structures  to best meet the unique and spontaneous needs of your group. Released after Module 6 for maximum benefit.

BONUS RESOURCE: One Week Free Access to the Improv Game Library

This invaluable resource, that will have materials added on an ongoing basis, makes finding the right games for you fast and easy. Released after Module 7 for maximum benefit. Games are organized by families for fast selection and include the following: 

  •  Videos demonstrations and sometimes coaching, so you can understand and learn quickly and easily before you introduce a new game

  •  Game Plans which included directions, as wells as notes, variations and side- coaching tips

  •  Facilitation Scripts with effective facilitation strategies embedded into it, so you  can confidently know exactly what to say when introducing a new game.

  • Ideas for increasing Engagement

  • Ideas for Sustaining results and impact

  • Cheat Sheets 

Meet your Instructor, Mary DeMichele

After 25 years of witnessing what improv could do for people including those who suffer from the effects of trauma, I posed a greater question, “Could this be empirically proven neurobiologically?”

To answer that question I set out to conduct a study that was peer reviewed, published and clearly demonstrated changes in the brain.

I found that engaging for as few as 15 minutes in this very basic non intimidating activity, the most hyper aroused or hypo aroused teens could indeed engage the part of their brain that makes them open to social interaction, learning, and therapy.

For over two decades I have helped thousands of people in education, clinical professional and social settings take those first critical steps in the world of improv.
I am so excited to continue to share this incredibly simple, accessible process that anyone can engage in and teach, and in doing so help others and the people around them to engage and connect, leading to a far richer life as a whole.

This is the course for you, if you struggle to engage those who suffer the effects of trauma and who most need the benefits improv offers

This course specifically helps:

  • Teachers and Schools whose students struggle with the cognitive, emotional or behavioral challenges associated with trauma, move from daily fatigue, fear and frustration to creating a trauma informed environment and while shifting their students’ mental state to one that is better able to engage in learning by practicing.

  • Directors and Executive Directors in the Behavioral Health Field who serve those who suffer the effects of trauma and other mental health disorders to move from the challenge of a limited training budgets to the implementation of a high value, low cost solution that can be implemented across the organization serving management, employees, clients and even their families.

  • Therapist and Direct Care Staff who work with clients who suffer from the impacts of developmental trauma and other mental health disorders, to help their client(s) move quickly and easily from living in the fear-based brain to a place of engagement, willingness and curiosity, helping them to more easily engage in treatment and social interactions.

  • Parents of Adolescents with developmental trauma, to move from the fear, frustration, and fatigue of not being able to positively engage with their child, to quickly and easily creating the shared experiences of connection, joy, and supportive laughter.

  • Adolescents and Adults who struggle daily from the effects of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more to a mental state where they are better able to comfortably and confidently engage with others and improv their personal and professional performance.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is the approach used in this course the same approach that was used in the published study?

    Yes, it is. The approach to learning and teaching improv, as well as the instructional techniques used are the same.

  • I have no experience in improv. Will I really be able to complete this course?

    Absolutely. The One Rule Improv approach, as it simplifies the process of learning and teaching improv, makes improv accessible to the beginner, whether they may be outgoing or introverted. It is carefully designed, so that each module is built off the one before, allowing you time to experience and apply what you learn before moving on to the next.

  • I am worried that when doing improv, a person might be emotionally triggered/upset.

    There are many improvisational games and activities that utilize situational role-playing activities, are not framed by the rule of “Yes, and…” or don’t feature collaboration as a central theme. These are the types of activities that may trigger someone emotionally.

    In contrast, this program uses collaborative short-form improv games framed by “Yes, and…” which help individuals achieve a more neurologically balanced state. Players move into a better mental state, are focused on the present and are highly unlikely to be emotionally triggered by the past. Specific facilitation strategies used in this approach also limit the chance of triggering an individual.

  • I am an experienced improvisor. Is this course for me?

    If you are looking to better your understanding of how improv works and would like to feel confident teaching it to others, in a safe and accessible way, then, Yes!

What Others Are Saying...

" A must for integrating effective experiential therapies."

Rob Gent, M.A., LPC.
Chief Clinical Officer, Embark Behavioral Health

One Rule Improv is simply the best way to understand how to transform lives using the process and power of improv. As a psychotherapist, I consider this a must for integrating effective experiential therapies.

Great for culturally responsive teaching"

Susan Yardley-Vagnino, Teacher

I think One Rule Improv is great for culturally responsive teaching. It is a great way to allow everyone to contribute where they are and everyone has an equal role. I tied it to intrinsic motivation to engage and work cooperatively, collaboratively, while developing listening skills and opening up imagination.

"Bridge those relationships"

Kathy Abeln, MA, LPC
Pre-teen Clinical Director-Calo PreTeens

One Rule Improv has been an amazing intervention for our preteen students! Kids with developmental trauma have significant struggles with relationships and communication. Improv is a way students can bridge those relationship and healing can occur.

"a safe and supportive environment to explore and learn."

Layla Thurman, HR Assistant Director

Although I love to perform and am used to learning a script, I'm an introvert and thought improv would be terrifying![ One Rule Improv] not only makes the process tremendous fun, but also provides a safe and supportive environment to explore and learn.