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.  It can also access new methods of coping that have not yet been explored by traditional methods of strictly verbal psychotherapy.

What happens in the session?

Sometimes you wonder if the stress you feel will ever resolve.  I get it.  The symptoms feel overwhelming and you can’t get a break, going from bad to worse to unbelievable.  Maybe this particular time with all that is going on has just put you over the edge.

So, what happens when you start to move your body with these thoughts and feelings?  And how can we modify that movement just a little to get a sense of relief and freedom from those feelings?  A new understanding leading to a new way of perceiving the stressful situation?  What kinds of behaviors now evolve? This is how I work in a dance therapy session. Movement therapy is effective in treating stress and grief 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 coping skills that can be utilized throughout your life.  The power of movement is amazing!  You “move” from feelings of helplessness and hopelessness to those of confidence, strength, peace. Through the movement and verbal dialogue,  we can explore ways of thinking and feeling that decrease or even eliminate the symptoms of stress.  As we move in the session we learn to develop and improve coping skills so after you get through this difficult time, you have the tools to deal with future stress.  The power of movement is amazing.  You no longer feel helpless and hopeless.  Instead, you are confident, strong, content, happy.

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



Santa Ana, CA

movemountainstherapy@gmail.com
(714) 941-2257

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