Bring on the fun! Improvisation for Managing ADHD!

Bring on the fun! Improvisation for Managing ADHD!

Going the distance with managing our most challenging ADHD traits can be daunting.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the muck and mire of the struggle.  But it does not have to be that way.  We can find more joy, grace, and ease within the day-to-day challenges we face. 

It's all how we look at it! And how we work on it.  

 Are you feeling down and in the thick of the struggle right now?  Mundane, heavy, tiresome, boring, draining. if you are describing things this way and are looking for the new and shiny yet cannot find it then this is for you!  Bring on the FUN!  INTEREST!  And the NEW AND NOVEL!  Ya know we need it!


Finding more varied ways to manage ADHD is essential for the long haul of dealing with these challenges and for reaching our goals, living a life of grace and ease, and finding joy. 

Add some sparkle back into your life.  When you have had enough, feel drained, and tired of the same old, what can you do to make it fun and enjoyable?  Try IMPROVISATION!

My colleague and friend Certified ADHD Coach Alex Hey at Reset ADHD has a really cool workshop on using Improv to help manage ADHD.  I was so intrigued by this that I began to do some research to see just how it could help.  I wanted to know which traits Improv helps to mitigate and what skills it builds or develops…And I wanted to know, is this evidence based?  And you won’t believe  what I found! it out!..... read on to learn more.


What exactly is Improv?

Improv (improvisation) is a form of live performing or playing in creative unscripted scenes and dialogue.  It's about being a character at the moment in spontaneous ways.  It utilizes real-time fun dialogues or scenarios in the moment creating an opportunity for low-stress collaboration and responses.  It’s a ‘life practicing’ kind of thing.  It’s a unique and fun experience.   Improv is used in acting and theatrical scenarios but also as a tool for education, business building, and therapy as a way of enhancing creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills.


What can Improv do for us? 

Improve can be a fun tool for helping folks to manage their ADHD symptoms because it helps to build certain skills and abilities.  Through my investigation of how improv can help I see it as helping in 3 main areas…..

  • Building stronger executive function skills
  • Working on communication skills
  • Building social awareness and social skills

Here are just a few examples for each area and how Improv helps….

Executive Functions…
  • Cognitive flexibility – Improv encourages spontaneity and flexibility. These sessions build flexible thinking and move you away from rigid black-and-white thinking as you practice adapting to the scenes at the moment and adapt to unexpected changes. 
  • Metacognition (self-awareness) Improv helps to teach mindfulness and being present in the moment as you really stay present in order to hear, know, and engage.
  • Planning – We have to do some mental planning in what we will be saying and our angle of approach.
  • Organizing – sifting through our thinking at the moment to organize the approach.
  • Time management – we are allotted certain amount of time and have to utilize that time slot.
  • Impulse control – As we refrain from blurting out what comes to mind first. Waiting our turn.
  • Focus – we must stay focused in the present moment to do this work, we practice working to manage distraction
 Social Skills…
  • Reading cues – is often hard for anyone with ADHD – Improv helps to build this skill of paying attention to nonverbal cues.
  • Interpreting others’ reactions/responses. Slowing down in the moment, being able to see the response, and then interpreting that.
  • Being able to see how we are interpreting the response of others
  • Provides an outlet for creative self-awareness in a non-judgemental environment. An opportunity to practice social reciprocity.
  • Understanding how others perceive our response
Communication building

  • Listening is a key part of communication skills – building the ‘muscle’ of listening.
  • Helps to build effective communication skills as we try to find the most relevant way to express ourselves in the moment.
  • Helps those increase their ability to express themselves


How does this impact ADHD

It's inherently fun and engaging, an outside-the-box kind of approach to working on these skills which are highly engaging for the diverse brain.  Many folks with ADHD have dealt with a lifetime of challenges that impact confidence and improv can be a useful tool for building many life skills alongside strengthening self-confidence.

Improv builds creativity and imagination and is fun and different, which can combat the dreaded ADHD boredom.  This can lead to developing skills over time for longer periods which is what re-trains/rewires the brain.  We know how important consistency is for change.

Is it evidence-based?

Yes!  There is evidence basis for giving this a try.  Several of the studies I looked at for this article are listed below.  The main areas considered in these studies were social skills, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.  One study even showed a reduction in the ‘ADHD self-reported symptom scale’.  In addition, anecdotal case studies also suggest that improv can be a very helpful tool for managing ADHD symptoms and improving quality of life.  The more we know the better, so more research would be very useful in determining the full benefit of improvisation for ADHD.  However, it sounds quite fun and can re-engage the brain when the current methods are feeling humdrum or need a little re-sparkling.  

Participating in improv can be a fun new way of looking at and working with your challenges, building new skills, and strengthening others.  Improv provides numerous benefits such as building executive functions, social skills, and communication skills when practiced in a safe and supportive environment.   If you want to join in on the fun and learn more – Join Alex Hey here…

All the best to you ALWAYS,


Lindqvist, S., Thorell, L.B., & Gustafsson, P.A. (2015).  Improvisational theatre as a treatment for ADHD:  A pilot feasibility study.  Journal of Attention Disorders, 19 (10), 867-875 doi:  10.1177/1087054714529792

Kim, J.W., Lee J.H., Kim, S.Y., & Bahn, G.H. (2017).  Effects of improvisational comedy on creativity, cognitive flexibility, and proactivity in individuals with ADHD.  Creativity Research Journal, 29 (3), 341-345. Doi: 10.1080/10400419.217.1346542

Wang, Y., Zhang, Y., Sun, X., & Huang, D. (2019).  The effects of improvisational drama therapy on executive function in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 14 (1), 94-105. Doi:10.1080/15401383.2018.1451583



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