Serious Play Retreats  

Creative City Retreats & "True Colours" Retreats



train your creative muscles, your intuition, and renew your sense of possibility

Are you a successful professional yet feel ready for the next big thing? Do you feel that you are playing it safe and long to break through your blocks? On some level do you hold the belief that you are not a "creative (enough) person?"

Laura Carmichael's workshops for individuals combine 2 decades of high level arts experience with the latest in coaching and over 10 years business training experience to help ambitious clients liberate their creativity. Get out of the malaise caused by being a passive consumer of other people's ideas, or trying to fit yourself into a status quo designed by someone else, and jump start your own creative engine. Gain more meaning and direction.

Go directly to the link for upcoming TRUE COLOURS creativity retreat.


An Oasis

Designed for successful, analytical professionals who feel stuck or are (still) struggling to get going on their own ideas and are tired of holding back. Set aside your competitive identity, and exercise your "right brain" creative muscles in a secure, confidential, non-judgmental environment. Expand your perception and learn how to let new ideas come forth; experience the much talked about "open" state of “flow” firsthand.


of Discovery

Learn how your own original thinking and creativity can be stimulated. Creativity is a practice that everyone can learn, not a talent available to the few. Serious Play worshops are about more than passively consuming entertainment or taking time off.


and Focus

Serious in the sense that your focused input is required to actively notice and pay attention to life around you and inside of you. Playful in the methods to stimulate openness. Fun for its own sake, yes, but also in the larger sense of cultivating an alert yet non-stressed state of mind. Your creativity springs from your own experiences and point of view. The workshop methods spring from years of creative experience and teaching, and are backed up by sound research.

Click to read more about the background of the program.


view a taster demo of the work...


A Renewal

Within a weekend...

Intended for people who want some worthwhile personal time for themselves, yet don’t have time to go away from home. Great if you need personalized time and space to refresh and reset yourself, or to reevaluate a problem/project you are pondering.


of your Potential

Participants will learn about creativity and be creative, and will also have time to move, rest, write and reflect. Surprise yourself.

For MORE INFORMATION advanced notice and news please join the mailing list. 


Meestal wordt het cursus in het Engels gegeven maar Nederlands is ook mogelijk.


Would You like to?

  • Refresh your energy, recharge, get inspired
  • Reawaken the senses
  • Break through blocks and inhibitions
  • Take time to reflect
  • Get out of your head and realign your body-mind connection
  • Have some FUN
  • Ponder anything you’ve left simmering on the back burner for too long
  • Discover hidden talents
  • Learn applicable skills to enhance work and other areas of life
  • Be good to yourself and others
  • Laugh
  • Focus
  • Experience relaxed concentration
  • Learn core elements of the creative state
  • Experience a creative process accessible to anyone
  • Coordinate the cognitive and creative mind to stimulate optimal, fresh thinking
  • Connect to like-minded people
  • Let the bird out of the cage

Then Sign up for advanced notice of courses and news. 

For more information on in-company training, including Laura's Ballast Program, Think Like an Artist programs, or individual coaching call/write. Serious Play is currently offered in New York, the Bay Area and Amsterdam. Click here for more on time and place practical info. 

Go here to read more about the TRUE COLOURS Retreat with Dr. Sharmishtha Dattagupta.

RKL workshop.jpg

What will we do in the Retreat?

The Serious Play Retreat & Creative City Retreat are designed to be an oasis away from the ordinary demands of daily life, where we can get ourselves into a state of openminded playfulness, the "flow" state where creativity can happen, and then have some fun and see what possibilities arise. You can bring your own problem to solve, your own creative work that you would like to spend some time on, or an aspect of life that feels stuck. This can be from your personal life, work life, or a project yet to be realized or even begun, and you don't publicly have to state it or share it if you don't want to. You can also simply show up out of curiosity and the desire to learn more about what triggers your own creativity. After each "getting into flow" exercise, you will have time to either work on your own project or follow a directed activity or improvise. Thereafter there will be time for reflection and note taking on your own observations. We go through this cycle several times during the workshop with different materials, empowering participants to make their own discoveries of what works for them, and carry them further after the workshop is over. As needed there will be exercises to deal with negative inner voices or blocks. There will be the opportunity to have individual attention throughout the process, and some free time for yourself.

During the workshop you will have the opportunity to try out numerous exercises including physical play (we will move!), verbal/word play (we will write!), object play (we will play with things!), plus gamesconstruction play, deliberate cognitive dissonanceactive relaxation exercises. We also play with sensory perception (sound, touch, taste, smell, sight) and problem solving modalities. Some exercises are adapted from known creativity experts, such as Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Drawing on the Artist Within)and writer and teacher Lance Olsen (Architectures of Possibility) and Dharma Art practices. There may guests such as a tea tasting expert, or a sports and neuro psychologist, or another creative practitioner. You will also experience a variety of process oriented play strategies, some involving the body in motion, which specifically linked with text, stimulate integration of "left and right" brain. This is where my own personal creative work originates, linked to sound. For these workshops I've adapted the exercises so that anyone can use them. For example, we will start with combining physical movement and language to loosen up and start firing the synapses. These are my own specially designed exercises (see Background for more on this). We will experiment with what I call "slow start" and "fast start" exercises; you can learn how to read your mood and see what kinds of activities you might most need in the moment. Many activities are individual, but some are group oriented. Participants have some choice in the direction content takes. For example, part of the group may do a construction exercise, while others do a writing exercise or individual imagination play with a found object. While most sessions will take place in the studio, some activities can take us outdoors. 

There will be action. It's like a brain gym for the whole brain, using whole body integration, not just talk, lecture or theory. Different people find the flow state through different types of creative engagement.

Supplementary materials to use after the workshop are available in the client portal. Participants also have the chance to network with other like-minded participants.


What atmosphere can you expect?

A safe place to take risks and try new things

Group size is limited to 6 to 20 participants (depending on format). Participants will be gently, and playfully, led through a series of activities that promote an engaged “flow” state, which hinges upon the establishment of trust. All activities are open-ended and non-competitive. The required level of physical strain is mild, and accessible to everyone, including being adaptable to people with disabilities, but it can also be made more challenging for participants with a higher level of fitness or experience. Both the total novice and more experienced practitioner will be able to work side by side.

An Innovation "Decelerator"

You may have heard of Innovation Accelerators. Serious Play cultivates slowing down to access inner wisdom, and open-ended exploration.

The nature of the weekend is a retreat - so no mobile phones during sessions, and no jumping in and out. Everyone commits to giving it their full attention.

While the nature of play focuses on means and processes more than goals, participants will come away with repeatable, applicable new skills they can practice and further develop in other areas of your daily life.

The intended outcome is that participants will leave refreshed and relaxed as well as learning specific strategies for creativity. Besides cultivating fun, and pleasure for its own sake, some exercises have been developed with the express purpose of generating non-habituated new ideas. The workshops may be especially suited for professionals who know they need to "relax" but are turned off by religious, spiritual, or "new age" style; this workshop is totally secular.


When in your life can this work be especially beneficial for you?

• Times of transition (career questions, what's next, reassess, new parent wanting to find an onramp back to work/different work)

• Dreaming about a project that you haven't dared to start

• Feeling stuck

• Feeling stressed out, overburdened by life feeling like a constant chain of obligations

• Feeling perfectly healthy and successful, yet curious about developing more sides to yourself