Dance Movement Therapy

What is Dance Therapy or Movement Therapy?

I truly believe in the incredible power of movement.  For centuries every culture has used body movement for functional, communicative, celebratory, expressive and ritualistic purposes.  It is present in every person from the moment of conception until the end of life.  It is part and parcel part of our being.

The American Dance Therapy Association, formed in 1966, defines dance/movement therapy as the “psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual.” Functional and expressive body movement is used as a means of assessment and a therapeutic tool to facilitate change.  As a profession, it emerged in the 1940’s in response to the need to find new therapeutic forms of treatment to help those suffering from the effects of WWII.   Today it is used as an effective treatment for people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and a variety of psychological, medical, social and physical impairments worldwide.

I use it as a medium for change because it can go behind our intellectual defenses to get to the root of issues that bring people pain and suffering.  It can be a less threatening way to address the issues at hand.  Life experiences, thoughts and feelings are often too difficult to talk about- you just can’t find the words to adequately express what is felt.  With dance therapy, you can finally express it through your body movement.  In addition, you can access new methods of  coping, with these feelings through altering your body movement.

What happens in the session?

When you start to move your body, you get in touch with thoughts and feelings that draw your attention.  I might suggest you modify that movement just a little to get a sense of relief and freedom from those feelings, or amplify/minimize the movement to clarify your thoughts and feelings in the experience.  From this exploration a new understanding may come, leading to a new way of thinking and acting on this information.

Movement therapy is highly effective with grief and anxiety because symptoms manifest in the body and mind.  Through movement and verbal dialogue, we can explore ways of thinking or feeling that create new neuropathways in the brain, changing the way we think about things.  As we move in the session you develop movement based coping skills that can be utilized to cope with the loss or calm the storm.  The power of movement is amazing!

Do I have to dance in the session?

There is no formal use of dance in my movement therapy sessions, but someone can choose to dance to communicate feelings and express oneself.  I may structure the session by suggesting that you move different body parts to explore images and feelings that arise from the movement,  but how and when you move is totally up to you.  In some sessions I witness your movement and offer my feedback based on movement observations.  Body movements can range from something as small as a twitch of a finger or a hand gesture to body movements incorporating the entire body.  There is no “right or wrong” way to move, as long as you remain safe. Verbal dialogue transpires from the movement so that we can work together to process the material that unfolds.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth, or to step backward into safety.”

-Abraham Maslow

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17821 E. 17th Street Unit #260
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 941-2257

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