As health promotion professionals, many of us were trained in the core public health competencies - planning, implementing, evaluating, researching, etc. However, curricula often leave out the core human skills of public health and life - resilience, authenticity, vulnerability, flexibility, compassion, etc. Research highlights the importance of these interpersonal and intrapersonal skills training and applications for more effective health promotion as well as more engaged, flexible, and resilient health promotion professionals (McPhee, 2022).
To intentionally and holistically work to mitigate systemic health inequities, health promotion professionals must have learning environments where they can be authentic, share their lived experiences, and feel safe to have challenging conversations. We must be trained to be able to create space for these vulnerable conversations, particularly because avoiding them or engaging in them with untrained staff often unwittingly replicates the dominant power structures that perpetuate inequities (Muldoon, 2021). We can no longer “take the privileged path of least resistance” by avoiding conversations about discrimination because they may be challenging and certainly will be personal because health impacts all of us (Acosta & Ackerman-Barger, 2017).
Applied improvisation is a well-suited and deeply experiential methodology for this training that enables individuals to practice these skills in a low stakes and creative environment before needing to utilize them in high-intensity situations because it is “grounded in a culture of support and feedback” (Fu, 2019). In this breakout session, there are built-in opportunities for participants to connect and be vulnerable while making meaningful applications to their work and life.