Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) for Adults

Walking is dancing!

Dance and movement have been a human, cultural, social and spiritual phenomena since the beginning of mankind.  All cultures and societies use dance and movement for honoring life stages such as events as parades, birth celebrations, graduation and marriage ceremonies, as well as individual human rituals, such as warm up and cool down exercises before strenuous activity, as well as walking meditations, greeting each other by handshakes, hugs or bowing.  We are not talking about stylized dance such as tango, ballet or jazz.  Dance/movement therapy (DMT) embraces the concept that all of us express a personalized ‘dance of self’ daily through gesture, posture, rhythm and movement attitude, such as standing close or far from others.  In these everyday movement phrases we are always projecting our self hood as a metaphor in the world.  Movement and dance are both functional and expressive at the same time.  Our personal dance/movement patterns say ‘who we are, where we have come from and how we step into the continual unknown of life changes and relationships’.  In the ‘dance of self’ within our daily life situations we weave the art of being human making use of left and right brain functioning to choose who we are, how we feel and how we act in any given moment.  The adult experiential learning process of reframing the perceptions we have of self and other, managing feelings with new skills and reorganizing our sense of self and life potential is the dance of dance/movement therapy.  Dance therapists are trained at a Masters and PhD levels and are board certified by the American Dance Therapy Association to apply our expertise for psychotherapy interventions through multidimensional processes and methods.

The discipline and profession of dance/movement therapy hones in on an individual’s personal ‘self dance’ as part of the psychotherapy process to enhance the efficacy of treatment goals and the personal issues a person brings to a session that they want to ‘work through’ and get to the other side of.  Our body and mind go through a natural developmental process from birth onward.  These are skills and tasks which gradually integrate to help us manifest into our adult self.  This growth process culminates into the thought, feeling and behavior patterns of our adulthood.  However through genetic, biological, family patterns and social experiences many of us are not always able to complete these tasks and skill development during our ‘growing up’ time.  So we develop coping mechanisms for managing and survival that often carry over into our adult life as habit patterns that can sometimes be self defeating, self sabotaging, limiting, as well as socially detrimental.  The dance/movement therapist functions on the premise that the mind and the body are interrelated and interact in health and illness.  Thus, the dance helps, whether the primary focus is an illness of the mind or spirit (which will impact the body) or of the body (which impacts the mind.)

Dance/movement therapists meet the client in the moment by matching individual movement patterns, responding to the client’s thoughts and ideas being spoken, as well as embracing the emotions being expressed.  Within this experience a safe, trusting attachment is created, and the DMT then begins to verbally and nonverbally use her ‘presence’ to help the client rework unfinished tasks from former developmental stages, offers the client experiences to further develop self care skills, regulate feelings, calibrate behaviors and bring insight and consciousness to detrimental coping mechanisms.  The movement simultaneously serves as the material for assessment and as the means of developing therapeutic interventions.  The dance/movement therapist strives to enable a client to mobilize the resources from within where the mind-body connects.  The healing occurs as the client is able to access and draw forth these internal resources.

This transformational growing experience, through the safety and intimacy of the therapeutic bond, allows the client to adapt to new body-mind patterns that bring increased capacities for problem solving, to tolerate complex issues that come up in life situations and enhance self value.  This experiential process facilitates the development of new possibilities for the client’s life through spontaneity, satisfaction and creativity.  Whether the client’s issues are mourning a death or loss of a loved one, adjusting to a divorce or other life calamities that may arise for any of us, managing boundaries with children, partners, parents, or friends, or adapting to aging or physical limitations, all of these and more are part of the treatment process.  These life changing experiences often manifest as anxiety, depression and disorganization or compulsions and are addressed through the DMT psychotherapy process.

Given that dance is an art and our bodies are the media of the art, dance/movement therapy, when combined with our thinking skills, memories and imagination is in a unique position as a healing process and discipline to utilize the left and right brain functions to reorganize stuck patterns and create new patterns for healing in the moment.  The dance and movement can happen in silence and stillness as well as with music and rhythmic phrases.  Sitting and standing and very pedestrian everyday kind of movement communicates our ‘self dance’ as effectively as animated dance.  Breath work, grounding, relaxation, walking and expressive dance are all opportunities to ‘move through’ held in feelings and allow increased insight and a safe arena to experiment with new responses to one ’s self and within relationships.  Our perceptions are colored by our past experiences.  The process in therapy allows us to open ourselves to expand our perceptions to meet the situation with new possibilities.  DMT gives a client the opportunity to work from the ‘inside out’ and the ‘outside in’ at the same time.  The client verbalizes his thoughts, expresses his/her feelings, embraces new thought perceptions and practices new movement feeling responses and sense of self in action.  This is a psychotherapy process which is effective both in an individual or group setting.  The group setting allows relationship and peer support to develop amongst its members and the individual setting allows in depth intimacy and focused attention from the therapist. It has been said that dance is the language of the soul.