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Lisa Beezley

Lisa Beezley-Lippman is the CareActors Manager/Director for Kaiser Permanente in LA, California.
Interview by Hayley O'Brien May 2015

When I think of peace for an individual I think of a really safe feeling where all of a person’s needs are met. When someone is at peace they have shelter, food, safety, emotional and spiritual stability. When people feel they can hold their heads up and take care of themselves and the people they love, positive peace can begin to develop.

Also, good health is important in promoting inner peace. Health and peace go very much hand in hand. If someone's health is not good they are in a constant state of worry and it’s impossible to be at peace.

What we do with CareActors is help doctors build trust and inspire genuine empathy for their patients and families. Using theater to portray difficult medical situations allows the audience-who are usually doctors and nurses-to watch the situation from all sides without feeling the pressure of being in that situation themselves. They get to feel the emotions, they get to see how everyone is impacted, but it's not directed at them in that moment. It’s easier to see the human side of the medicine. It helps them get in touch with why they became a health care professional in the first place- to help people.

Our goal is to help doctors and nurses connect with people one relationship, one 15 minute appointment at a time. We show them how to be authentic and build trust. These qualities are important because a patient will be more likely to come in for preventive help (for example, if a patient is experiencing domestic or sexual abuse) if they trust their doctor and feel there is a genuine relationship between them.

Besides my troupe, we have an entire arm of educational programs. These programs go into schools and perform programs on topics such as violence prevention and teach them to talk it out with their minds and their hearts instead of beating it out with their fists.

When people are in situations with high emotional stress they have options but they don't always feel that way. If people will prevent themselves from making huge decisions in the heat of emotion and are able to be strong enough to take a deep breath and really think before they make a decision, the outcome will have a better chance of bringing a more positive peace. I see this all the time with young people who maybe make bad decisions and once you get them to see the possibilities instead of all the negatives is what changes communities toward a more positive peace.

If people were more curious about others instead of judgmental we’d all get along so much better. We tend to rush to judgement. You can make a blanket decision about why a community is struggling and say ”it’s just a bad community” but instead we should get in there and find what the root problems are. Once you figure out what’s truly going on it's easier to address what’s at the heart of the problem.

The way I like to think of it is everyone has their own map of their life: showing where they’ve been to where they are, how they think, and what's important to them and it's different for every single person. The more you understand a person’s map the more your communication can be more meaningful. Communication is at the heart of everything. When people stop communicating is when you have unrest and no peace. If you see something that you don't understand, instead of being scared or frustrated, get curious. Learn to empathize.