Jill Stier

Theatrical Performance Techniques and OTs

 
At the Richard Reznick Wilson Centre Research Day, on November 4, Jill Stier presented results of the research she and her colleagues have done into OT students’ experiences and perceptions of theatre practice workshops. Prior research demonstrated better communication skills, but more work was needed.

Below is an abstract of their presentation.
 
 
“The emphasis on client-centered care highlights the role of humanities in educating clinicians. Evidence from performance studies and cognitive neuroscience suggest actor training techniques can enhance empathy and self-awareness. Therefore, our group developed a novel workshop utilizing theatre techniques to encourage embodied practice and enhance self-awareness and reflexivity amongst occupational therapy (OT) students. Our prior research demonstrated improved client communication skills in students receiving the workshop. However, students’ perceptions of the workshop, particularly in relation to embodied practice, remain unexplored.

Research Question: To explore how students perceived the learning experiences of the theatre practice workshop and their conceptualizations of embodied practice.

We used a constructivist grounded theory approach, combining workshop observations with interview data. Post-workshop interviews were conducted with students from three OT cohorts at varied points, to explore perceptions and experiences of the workshop, relation of the workshop to practice, and students’ conceptualizations of embodied practice. We adopted the constant comparative method for analysis.

Participation in the theatre practice workshop encouraged participants to develop embodied practice as a key to understanding themselves and others. Students described that their experience in the workshop enhanced their capacity to empathize with clients by recognizing personal contexts, and requiring them to overcome uncertainty and embrace discomfort to learn in this way. A safe learning space was vital in this realization and allowed some students to revisit otherwise suppressed aspects of learning through the arts.

Incorporation of theatre techniques into OT training may enhance students’ communication with clients in important and nuanced ways. Embodied practice is a complex concept; an arts-based approach may help students acknowledge and appreciate such attentive practices in their training.”

Jill Stier M.A., OT Reg. (Ont.)
Laura-Jayne Nelles MFA PhD (c)
Stella Ng PhD.
Catharine M. Walsh MD, MEd, PhD, FRCPC
 
 

For more information about the project, contact Jill Stier: Jill.stier@utoronto.ca
 
Visit the Wilson Centre website for more information about the Richard Reznick Research Day.