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Applied Improvisation to build a Growth Mindset


Recently we are hearing more and more about the power of “A Growth Mindset”. Coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor, who defined it as the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. In contrast, a fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities are innate and cannot be improved. This distinction is essential because it can profoundly impact our ability to learn and grow.

The neuroscience behind the Growth Mindset is that our brains have the capacity to grow and change throughout our lives. When we face challenges or setbacks, we can develop new strategies and build new neural pathways to overcome them. This ability is called neuroplasticity, and it is the foundation of the Growth Mindset.

a person holding a plant with the words failure is fertilizer have fun it's a process

So, how can we develop a Growth Mindset and leverage the power of neuroplasticity? That’s where Applied Improvisation comes in.

Applied Improvisation is a set of principles and techniques developed by Viola Spolin and further developed by improv performers, trainers, consultants, and teachers. It involves creating spontaneous, collaborative scenes or games, often with no pre-planned script or outcome. The focus is on being present in the moment, listening to others, being comfortable with the uncomfortable, and building and sustaining neuro pathways in a low stake’s environment.

The neuroscience behind Applied Improvisation is that it engages the body/brain connection. When we engage in spontaneous, playful, and creative activities, we activate multiple areas of our brain, including the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, and the hippocampus. These areas are responsible for executive functions, emotional regulation, and memory, respectively. By activating and integrating these areas, we can enhance our ability to learn, adapt, and innovate.

a diagram of the human brain and its functions

Applied Improvisation supports building a Growth Mindset because it creates a safe and supportive environment where participants can practice and develop new skills, make mistakes, and receive feedback without fear of judgment or failure. By embracing challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, participants can develop a Growth Mindset and apply it to other areas of their lives.

Applied Improvisation is aligned with educational K-12 state standards and can be used in K-12 education to foster creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. It can also be used in corporate training and mental health settings to improve teamwork, communication, leadership, and resilience.

a group of people looking at a laptop

If you’re interested in learning more about Applied Improvisation and how it can support your personal or professional growth, visit for trainings in corporations, education, and mental health, and one-on-ones for adults. If you’re interested in using Applied Improvisation in K-12 education, mental health, or private sessions for ages 5-17, visit

In conclusion, Applied Improvisation is a powerful tool for building a Growth Mindset and leveraging the power of neuroplasticity. By embracing challenges and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow, we can develop new skills, build new neural pathways, and enhance our ability to adapt and innovate. So, let’s get comfortable with the uncomfortable and start improvising our way to a Growth Mindset!

Christiana Frank
Consultant / Trainer / Program Developer / Speaker- International.

As an accomplished educator, curriculum developer, and mentor since 1999, Christiana Frank possesses a deep-rooted passion for guiding teams and individuals towards heightened mindfulness, capacity, and intentionality. She boasts an impressive portfolio of certifications spanning various fields, including but not limited to mindfulness and trauma-informed approaches, Applied Improvisation, and HeartMath.

In addition to her expertise, Christiana offers a wide range of services tailored to meet her clients’ needs. These include leadership coaching, organizational consulting, bespoke leadership training, mentoring, and development services. She is deeply committed to integrating her profound knowledge within her clients’ existing methodologies and frameworks, fostering more robust, healthier systems that consistently yield desired outcomes.

Interested parties are invited to reach out for a complimentary consultation or to engage Christiana and her dedicated team. To get started, please email .

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