How wonderful to get to know the delightful Dr. Peter Felsman. He is a therapist, improviser, and researcher. Peter has written several papers and research studies on improv including The use of improvisational theater training to reduce social anxiety in adolescents with Colleen M. Seifert, and Joseph A. Himleb. He hails from New Jersey and was in a family with several psychotherapists, so he knew his path at an early age. In his first stage performance, he played Winnie the Pooh. He told his mother he didn’t like it and she asked what he wanted to do. He replied, “I want to be absent.” He was on stage again in Middle School, playing Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz, which was his final performance. He shared that Uncle Henry had to yell, and that was something he was unfamiliar with, as he grew up in a “sound-sensitive” home.
Peter switched to the “Pit,” got a music degree in percussion, and played for many staged performances. He had five degrees from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. He earned a BA in psychology, a BS in social psych and MSW, and then Ph.D. in social work, where he began his research work. In 2019, he held a postdoctoral associate position at Stony Brook University. The position was a joint appointment at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and the Social Competence and Treatment Lab. He described a meeting with Alan Alda that left a lasting impression on him.
He took his first improv class in college and was immediately inspired to learn more. He later studied at Chicago Second City, the IO and Annoyance, and several other improv schools. His journey into improv and therapy is fascinating and as a therapist, I certainly appreciate what he is contributing to our field.