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Original variety show to address stigma around mental health

Messenger-Inquirer - 12/13/2018

Dec. 13--Life is too short to worry with labels.

At least that's what Elizabeth Godthaab, a therapeutic community support therapist for RiverValley Behavioral Health believes. It is also one of the reasons she and a group of her co-workers and others in the mental health field have developed a musical-comedy that will be performed Dec. 21-22 in the Theatre Workshop of Owensboro Empress Theatre.

Godthaab comes from a theatrical family. Her father was big into theater as she was growing up, and Godthaab kept him in mind as she was helping to write "Santa Claus is Coming to Therapy." The show makes light of mental health and therapy, and all of the components that go along with those and the stigmas they carry.

"We spend so much time focused on diagnoses, labels," she said. "We to just live our lives."

"Santa Claus is Coming to Therapy" is also an opportunity to give back to the community, with the proceeds from all tickets sold doing back to TWO and to New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services.

The variety show includes six mental health professionals, including Godthaab. It centers around the story of Santa and Mrs. Claus, a therapist named Dr. Feel Good and issues relating to mental health that are understandable to everyone.

Michael Fulkerson, RiverValley therapy community support services program manager, helped write the show. It's an idea he has had for many years.

The premise follows Santa Claus visiting his therapist because he is stressed and depressed at the North Pole. He reveals Mrs. Claus has left him, and his therapist, Dr. Feel Good prescribes a new evidence-based therapy called musically interactive karaoke expressive therapy -- or MIKE Therapy.

Fulkerson himself portrays a 6-foot elf who lives on the Island of Misfit Toys. With help from Dr. Feel Good, Fulkerson-the-elf transforms from a "tall, nerdy elf" to a rock-n-roll deity.

"The audience will not have seen anything like it," Fulkerson said. "It will be an original show, and they will never watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" the same way again."

see stigma/page D2

Fulkerson developed this show because it's important to laugh at oneself, he said.

"I believe the need for fun, and the ability to laugh is part of good mental health," he said.

The show begins at 7 p.m. both nights.

This is an adult-only show due to mature content. Tickets are $20, plus tax, per adult. They can be purchased at Theatre Workshop, 407 W. Fifth St., or by calling the box office at 270-683-5333. For more information about the show visit theatreworkshop.org.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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(c)2018 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.)

Visit the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) at www.messenger-inquirer.com

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