What is Dance/ Movement Therapy?
"the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being"
This holistic approach to healing is based on the notion that “mind, body, and spirit are inseparable and interconnected”
Essential Elements of D/MT
Therapeutic Movement Relationship
Kinesthetic Empathy & Awareness
Therapeutic Movement Relationship is described as the therapist’s ability to interact with a client through movement as a way of “reflecting a deep emotional acceptance and communication”
In other words, it is a way of meeting the client where they are at emotionally through the body
Mirroring happens when a therapist reflects back via her own movement and verbal narration what she perceives and experiences in the body of a client
Mirroring, as opposed to mimicry, involves:
the incorporation of meaning into the movement and not just the action of copying the movement itself
the expansion, broadening, and clarifying of the clients non-verbal and symbolic communication
Mirroring helps to validate the clients direct experience of themselves and allows dance movement therapists to embody the feelings and lived experience of another
Kinesthetic empathy refers to a therapists’ emotional reactions derived both from observing and from experiencing a client's movements by trying them on
Using kinesthetic empathy allows a therapist to be both empathetically and physically present
*Important Note: Similar to understanding grief, the therapist cannot entirely understand how the client is feeling, but instead understands how it feels to be in relationship with the client in the experience
Kinesthetic awareness is an individual’s internal sense of his or her physical self
Kinesthetic awareness can be awakened, developed, and encouraged
When working with individuals who are experiencing grief, kinesthetic awareness can be used to allow the client to become more aware of their somatic symptoms or body memory surrounding their loss, in order to help move through the grief process.
As this kinesthetic awareness is awakened in both the client and the therapist, the therapist can become a witness of the grief process.
(Levy, 2005), (Tortora, 2006), (Young, 2017)
"I'm not a dancer, can I still benefit from D/MT?"
Contrary to popular belief, this modality can be utilized with anyone who is wanting to become more connected with their body and explore their grief/emotions through movement.
You do not need to have any previous dance experience or consider yourself a "dancer" to participate in this kind of therapy. Think of the word dance as the movement that is utilized throughout a session, and only if that form of movement is appropriate for the client Movement could look like just breathing together and noticing how the breath moves and shifts things in our mind, body, and spirit.
This is not an exercise or performance based "dance class" and instead is more focused on the organic movement of the body, and how and where our grief and our emotions show up in the body.
Please reach out with any questions you have about whether or not D/MT is the right fit for you.
“One must be connected with their breath to feel their body. A connection to the body allows one to feel their heart. A connection with the heart allows one to become clear about their values so that they may connect with their humanity. When one sees their own humanity and realizes that others are suffering around them they have the opportunity to connect with the oneness of all beings and our shared humanity”.
Michelle C. Johnson
(Johnson, p. Xiii, 2017)